We’ve all been there . . . or at least somewhere close. Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two outs, down by a run. And your child steps into the batter’s box.

Dear Jesus . . . Strike one.

Please, God . . . Strike two.

Lord! I said, PLEASE! . . . Strike three.

Your heart sinks faster than that last pitch. Deep breath. Forced smile. “Good try, babe! We’ll get ’em next time!” Your cheerfulness is the perfect cover for your aching soul.

Welcome to parenthood.

Guess I missed the memo before becoming a mom but apparently standing by as our children experience the realities of life is part of the deal. Quite possibly the most difficult part. Whether it’s the ball field, hockey rink, cheer try-outs, spelling bee, swim meet, piano recital, or big history testour kids are bound to undergo a fair share of disappointments. A class election lost. A sleepover without an invitation. A touchdown pass dropped in the last seconds of the game.

And when they hurt, we hurt.

RELATED: Dear Youth Sports Parents, Please Let Your Kids Fail

If only we were in control (lol). Our kids could simply skip through life under clear, sunny, carefree skies. We love them that much.

Strange then, the One who is in control does allow storms to come.

Why? Because He loves them (hang on to your car seats, mamas) even more than we do. Instead of banning all adversity from their worlds, He permits it. Rather than prohibiting trials, He consents. Not despite His great love for them, but as a result of it. In God’s perfect providence, in His supreme sovereignty, there is purpose in pain. Good gifts even in grief.

The Gift of Compassion

Feeling for another, truly relating, and showing empathy are telltale signs of a compassionate heart. But how can our kids grow in compassion if they’ve never hit a rough patch themselves? Our children will be best equipped to support a teammate who misses a penalty shot or comfort a friend who flunks a test if they’ve felt a bit of that sting themselves. Walking in another’s shoes with personal understanding may be just what’s necessary for our kids to answer God’s call in “clothing ourselves with compassion” (Colossians 3:12).

The Gift of New Opportunities

Who better than our Lord to use a closed door as a beneficial detour? A setback in one area can merely be a reroute to an unknown talent or interest yet discovered. Like the boy who’d never realized his knack for chess until he got cut from club soccer or the girl not chosen for a lead role in the spring musical finding time to explore her love for paintingGod can use a present no to grant a future yes. And that closed door may be just the thing that teaches our kids that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).

The Gift of Gratitude

When gray skies roll in for our kids, it seems the whole world is raining. But then . . . a teacher gives a hug. A friend tells a joke. Cousins come to play. Dad gets home early for game night. Mom makes spaghetti! And voilà, our children receive a front-row seat in perspective. It’s never too early to learn that trials will most certainly come and go, but in the midst of difficulty remains an abundance of blessings. When one area of life disappoints, how valuable to see that there is much more in life for which to be grateful, always a reason to “glorify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30).

RELATED: What is Outside My Control is Still in God’s Control

So here’s to us not being in control. Here’s to trusting the One who is and accepting His good and perfect gifts for our children even when they’re wrapped in the circumstances of a rough time.

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Kathryn OBrien

Kathryn O'Brien has published six children's books and freelances for several parenting publications from her Southern California home. In education for over two decades, she currently serves as an administrator for a K-8 elementary school. She and her husband of 30 years enjoy filling their empty nest with hiking, golfing (optimistically), and waiting for their three adult children to come home for the weekend. 

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