My twins turned five this past summer. And from the moment we sat in our doctor’s office and heard the very unexpected news of their impending arrival, life has been a crazy train speeding toward a seemingly imminent derailment.
For example, I could tell you about the time Twin B emptied a sack of flour in the kitchen or the time Twin A artfully smeared the contents of his diaper on the carpet precisely three minutes before our small group was due to arrive.
So, when I read a recent CNN article on a set of parents who were “pissed” to discover they were having twins and aired their grievances online, I wasn’t really shocked by their response. Kids make life messy. They’re inconvenient. They’re embarrassing. They suck the life right out of you and then come back to pick over the remaining shreds of personal pride silly enough to hang around the scene.
However, my reflection on the controversy surrounding this couple goes much deeper than merely commiserating over their uncertain future as the parents of multiples.
And while there are many things in this article to which I’m bursting to respond, my qualm with the sentiment expressed by these reluctant parents isn’t their non-committal to bring all their embryos to term (although that certainly saddens my heart). Nor it is the seeming contradiction of both wanting a child and then not wanting their bundles of joy when they arrive (although that is concerning, too).
I can’t stop thinking about these controversial parents, because I see myself in them every day. Whether they know it or not, there is a singular and common thread running through our lives as parents: the thread of sin.
And this sin, found in all parents everywhere, leads us to divorce life’s good gifts from the good gift Giver.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17
Take the gift in question here: children. Scripture is clear, children are a blessing from the Lord (Ps. 127:3). Yet, our culture identifies a gift as good if it brings happiness, joy, or pleasure. In fact, the author of the CNN article who reported on these angry parents suggested the use of selective reduction (aborting one of the twins) as a reasonable response to their situation.
The Word of God describes God’s gifts differently, however. Sometimes, good gifts can be burdens. Sometimes good gifts can be difficult. Yet, within the all-encompassing reality of God, gifts are good because they are intended to fulfill the purposes God planned for them.
Eph. 2:10 points to this reality.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10
The good works planned for us by God do not derive their goodness because of who performs them. These good works are not good because they are, in and of themselves, good deeds. These good works are good because they’ve been planned for a purpose by a good God, and all God’s activities and dealings toward us are good.
Similarly, we receive good gifts because a good God gave them to us for a good purpose. The goodness of the gift cannot be divorced from the goodness of the Giver.
Ultimately, then, the way we view the gifts given to us – both difficult and easy – is a direct reflection of how we view the Giver. If we don’t have a right view of God, then how will we ever learn to view his gifts as good? We can’t. And, as this couple so vividly proves, we won’t.
If we don’t like the gift given to us, we are guilty of doubting the good character of the Giver.
If we begrudge someone for receiving the exact gift we wanted, we are guilty of doubting the fair and just character of the Giver.
But, if we enjoy the gift given to us despite the temporary pain it may bring, we demonstrate an artful trust in both the good intentions and good character of the One who gives all things in accordance to his perfect will.
This article stood out to me because I am the number one petitioner in divorcing God’s gifts from his good character and intentions toward me. And at the root of these false beliefs about him, is my own sin.
As a mom, this truth has rocked my world like no other.
My husband and I still marvel at God’s kindness toward us in doing exceedingly abundantly above all that we could have asked or thought. And it is to this truth that we cling, knowing he will equip us through his Spirit for every valley and mountaintop through which our parenting train will travel.
Praise be to him who gives us every spiritual blessing in our greatest gift, Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3).
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