Walking along certain beaches, you might notice a glint from the shore. Sea glass mingles with shells, sand, and seaweed, telling a story all its own. Time and turbulence both lend to the unique appearance of this glass. It is the product of hardship. These smooth, frosted, beautiful pieces of glass did not begin this way. Unforgiving waves, storms, and harsh saltwater transform the glass into art.
After a difficult season, our kids may relate to that sea glass tucked along the shoreline. Perhaps they feel forgotten or unseen, battered by circumstances, and unsure of their identity. We can direct our kids’ attention to a direct line between life’s hardships and God’s enduring hope. He is a God who sees them and is, through the challenges of life, refining their hearts and bringing about new beauty.
When hopelessness clouds our kids’ perspectives, we can remind them we have a God who loves to restore what is broken. We can share with them how God is working in our own lives through hard things. Persevering through difficulties can be an active endeavor, a progression toward our good and God’s glory — it is productive. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The word used for “endurance” means “steadfastness” and “constancy.” It is an act of faith-filled waiting on God’s goodness and mercy. If we allow Him, He’ll strengthen our spirits through these endeavors. Every trial finds us better prepared with enduring faith in a God who always sees us and meets us in hard places.
Like saltwater polishing an abandoned shard of glass, we can remind our kids it is often through tough times that God draws out the beauty within us. Sometimes there is an erosion that needs to happen. He is actively smoothing out the rough edges of our attitudes and behaviors, and making us more like Himself. What we see as an impossible situation may be exactly what God wants to use to transform us. Every bit of erosion and every mark of hardship adds to our story — a legacy of transformative power and relentless grace.
The hard things our children are up against can act as beacons, pointing them back to the work God is doing inside them. He is constantly refining our faith, as 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Others can look and clearly see God’s faithfulness in our lives.
When our kids feel dizzied by tossing waves, vulnerable to storms, or distressed and raw from constant adversity, we can encourage them to consider what God is doing. They can peer into the hardship and learn to recognize God’s activities. How might He want to grow their faith? What might He be preparing them for in the future? How could this situation equip them to help others? What magnificent beauty might He be preparing them for?
Romans 5:3-5 says, “We also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” We can help our kids emerge from the fog of hopelessness and focus on these attributes God wants to polish in their spirits: perseverance, proven character, and a hope that does not disappoint.
God never leaves us alone or abandoned on the shore. He sees us, and He calls us His own. In His love, our suffering is redeemed, our struggles are rooted in purpose, and every trial is bringing about His glory in our lives.