“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord;
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are children of one’s youth.”
Psalm 127:2,4

I’ve been thinking on these verses quite a bit lately. It’s a pretty weird analogy, isn’t it? Children, considered to be sweet and innocent, are actually weapons – deadly weapons – against enemies. But these arrows must be created, formed, and sharpened before they can be of any effective use. In addition to the making of these weapons, arrows can cause no damage if they have no bow to aim and let them loose against the enemy. And the instruments used to both fashion and implement these weapons are the parents. (No pressure!)

Our task as parents is to “fashion arrows,” to mold our children in such a way as to enable us to one day fire them at the enemy successfully. Some parents have let loose their children overseas to serve as missionaries. Some arrows have landed in the middle of the workforce to gently pierce their coworkers in neighboring cubicles. Still others stand behind the pulpit week after week, sharpening other arrows both young and old. Take a moment to imagine where your young arrows might one day pierce, and pierce definitively.

But some of our arrows are stronger than others though, aren’t they? Depending on the ages and personalities of our children, some are more ready for battle. Their malleable hearts may be able to withstand a bit more heat and hammering than others. But there are some whom we fear to be broken, as I had feared my own son to be. Perhaps you fear the same for your own child.

My middle son, Samuel, has autism. He is nearly 7 years old. He was diagnosed as “moderate/severe” autistic at 27 months of age. We agonized over the hopeless feeling that our son was broken and there was nothing that could fix him. So we did what every other parent who experiences such brokenness does– we grieved. We did not grieve the son we had, rather, we grieved the son we thought we would have and didn’t.

Ben (left) and Sam (right) praying during church service

Despite our sorrow, we had a job to do. As Christian parents, we are still tasked with raising up our children to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength regardless of their weaknesses. Samuel is still an arrow in need of fashioning to be useful to the Lord. Do you ever feel like you have children who might not be very useful, or as useful as others? Take heart; you are not alone.

Unfortunately, none of us are immune from brokenness, nor are our children. The fall of man in the garden “broke” us all. Sin not only made a small crack in our fragile Japanese vase, it has shattered it into pieces. We are all broken. The good part of the story, as you know, is that of the cross. Christ, who was broken for us, not only died for our sins – for our brokenness, but He was raised again, that we might be made new. Our shattered pieces are put back together again. Though still cracked we are once again whole. Though we wobble, we still stand. We now look forward with great hope to the day when our cracks will be gone forever.

Samuel singing from the hymnal during family devotions
with his autism assistance dog, Fred

In the meantime though, there is much work to be done. How then do we fashion our broken arrows? In whatever their brokenness, the answer is to give them Jesus. Teach your children about their brokenness – whether autism, or Down’s syndrome, or cancer, or simply sin – and about the good news that they may be made whole. Saturate their minds with Bible verses, hymns, and prayers that one day they will make a difference for the kingdom of God; that they can make a difference for the kingdom of God every day. Use every teachable moment to infiltrate their brokenness with healing through Jesus. Do not consider “fixing” the brokenness of your child with regards to disability, but rather teach them how to use their weaknesses with the mighty hand of God for His glory.

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