A Recipe for Overcoming by Marlo Fox

Another interruption to Interruptions: Every now and then someone else writes an Interruptions. Literally, this has happened every now and then… or exactly twice in 218 Interruptions. Marlo has written both. Her other Interruptions (#187 – look it up at discussed suffering from a teenage perspective. Below, she discusses her secret ingredient for overcoming difficulties both in your life and with the life of your teens.

Some might look back on 2020 as the year of suffering. However, even as I (Marlo) write this Interruptions, it seems incomplete to define any one season of life by the word suffering alone. This is because the experience of suffering is usually bound up in paradox.

The state of suffering often lives together with something seemingly opposite.

  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Matthew 5:4
  • You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.  John 16:20
  • Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character hope.  Romans 5:3-4

In guest Interruptions #187, I wrote about the importance of discipling our youth in a theology of suffering. Like many of you, youth today have been heavy on my heart during this season.

As we walk alongside them, they are looking to us to know what to do with their sorrow and the sorrow around them. They need both spiritual principles and practical guidance for navigating life’s pain and uncertainty.

So, in the 250 words that I have left in this blog, I plan to give you the secret sauce for discipling your teens in this way. Ready? Here it is – the main ingredient in the secret recipe:

To disciple your teen through suffering, you must first embrace your own wounds.

Christian maturity requires us to walk the path of suffering as Jesus did. In life, we experience both “good” and “bad” suffering. “Good,” or Godly, suffering could include natural pain, loss and difficult steps of obedience and trust in God. “Bad” suffering could include sinful behavior, or sin inflicted upon us like abuse or behaviors that lead to injury of the soul.

Through ALL suffering, however, God’s grace is sufficient not only for forgiveness, but also for complete transformation.

As you consider your own journey towards maturity in Christ, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I believe in the paradox of suffering? That God brings joy, perseverance, character, and hope in the most unlikely places as I trust Him?
  • Does my life reveal a desire to pursue only comfort, or obedience?
  • Do I believe that His grace is sufficient not only for forgiveness, but also for transformation?

Take some time to be vulnerable with your teens about your own journey. Chances are, they’ve seen your suffering and have been watching intently (even when they pretend to be oblivious).

Have you been open with them about your own vulnerability and doubts? Have they seen faith and purpose during your trials? What do they know about your own reckoning with your failures?

Commit today to take your suffering to the feet of Jesus, as He identifies with us through His own experience and His grace is sufficient for all our needs.

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.  Hebrews 5:8

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