When Our Children Face Rejection and Failure
By: Maggie Meadows Cooper

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. – Romans 5:3-4 NIV

I recently went to lunch with a close friend, and we were swapping stories about our kids. The good, the bad, the funny. Schoolwork, sports reports, youth group info. But then we got to one topic that is really tough: Watching our kids experience rejection or failure. And it really put a damper on things. Because seeing your kids fail and hurt and experience loss stinks. It just does.

You see, our girls are in their second year of middle school, where opportunities for rejection and failure are around every turn. There are a gazillion new clubs and activities and sports to try out for. There are projects and more independent work. And a whole lot of kids who might bully or make fun or point fingers at mistakes. While my daughter honestly handles it all with ease, this mama struggles sometimes.

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I don’t know if you experience the same thing, but if people hurt my feelings or mistreat me in some way, I am usually very quick to forgive and move on. But if people hurt someone I love…that is a much different story, I’m afraid. My heart hurts for them and is tempted to step in and “save them” or want to hold a grudge.

But y’all, that’s not ok. And here’s why.

The Lord grows us most in times of trial. In times of loss. In times of rejection. In times of failure. In times when all we have left to cling to is HIM. And my babies have to experience those moments for themselves.

So, if you are in the same boat as me at times, here are a few things we can remember as we send our babies out into the world:

1. Trials are a gift, even though it doesn’t feel like it right away.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. – Romans 5:3-4 NIV

Now, in these verses, Paul is talking about real suffering for Christ. And while we in America are not experiencing suffering in the same ways Paul did, I think this verse applies to everyday life. It reminds us that as followers of Christ, our lives are a testimony for Him. And the way we handle hard things, even the little things, shows others who we are living for.

I remember the look on my first-born’s face when she first experienced loss, like it was yesterday. She was 4, playing rec league soccer. She timidly ran after the ball, about to kick it, when a more aggressive player took it right out from under her. She turned and walked toward me, eyes welling up with tears, and I knew I had a choice. I could tell that “mean” little boy to let her have a turn to kick (like I wanted to), or I could hug her, coach her on how to play the game, and push her back out there to try again. I did the latter. And guess what? She survived. She learned to run quicker and be more aggressive. She persevered. And while she didn’t play soccer another season, she has carried that little lesson into other areas. She hasn’t quit when the going got tough. And as she is growing and maturing, she is learning to find her strength and hope in Christ.

2. Rejection hurts, but it is a beautiful time to point them to the cross.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. – Isaiah 53:3 ESV

This verse is talking about Jesus. And no one knows the hurt of being despised and rejected more. He had done absolutely nothing wrong. He was perfect in every way. And yet the people hated him without cause. It was unfair. It was unkind. It was unjust. And yet, Jesus in all His sorrow and grief, went willingly to the cross to die for our sins. He endured the ultimate ridicule and finger-pointing and bullying and still chose to die so that we might live. So that we could be forgiven for all of our own failures and rejection of others…maybe even Him. The cross is everything, and a time of rejection is a great time to take our babies there.

3. There is only one who can be their Savior, and it’s not me.

Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:11-12 NIV

Oh y’all, this is an ongoing lesson. I want to save my babies from hurt and embarrassment and mistakes. I want to step in and help them do the right thing. I want to intercede in hard situations. But more than that, I want them to know Jesus! And sometimes, He uses hard things to draw them to Him.

I can cover them in prayer and intercede in prayer on their behalf. I can teach them about the Lord and His ways. I can lead them to know the armor of God and put it on each day. I can encourage them to listen to and watch and choose programs and music and people that honor the Lord, and have conversations about people and things that they should avoid. I can remind them of His promises. But I can’t choose Jesus for them.

That is something that only they can do. And I have to allow Him to work in their hearts and minds. I have to allow Him to use hard things in their lives to draw them to Him. I have to allow them to be His. Because the truth is that they were always His first, and mine and my husband’s second.

Watching our children face rejection and failure is so, so very hard.

But allowing them to live a life without the hard stuff would be so much worse.

Because they wouldn’t grow. They wouldn’t change.

And they wouldn’t see their need for a Savior.

May we all remember that trials, rejection, and Jesus are for our babies’ good…and rest in the arms of our loving Savior through them all.