“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.” James 1: 2-5 (Phillips)
I’ll admit it. I wish I could bubble-wrap my sons to keep them free from injury, loss, rejection, failure, heartbreak, insults, or any other painful misfortune life might hurl in their direction. Especially now that my youngest son is driving, I dream about this possibility whenever he leaves the house with keys in hand!
But I recently read about a fascinating experiment in the Arizona desert where scientists attempted to create a perfect living environment for plants, animals, and humans under a protective biodome. This closed ecological system grew fruits, vegetables and trees and was sustained with purified water and air, nutrient-rich soil, and filtered light – a seemingly ideal habitat.
However, the perfect environment did not produce perfect results.
After a period of time, scientists noted a baffling phenomenon. After reaching a certain height, trees in the biosphere toppled over. This puzzled the scientists until they discovered a missing element in their biosphere. They forgot to include wind! Trees need wind to develop strong roots. When winds blow against trees, their root systems grow deeper, which support them as they grow taller.
We wish our lives could be lived in a virtual biosphere, free from the tensions and strains of outside influences. Yet, when daily challenges push against us, they are strengthening our “roots” and producing true patience and endurance, which will equip us for the journey ahead.
So if we bubble-wrap our kids, protecting them from all of life’s struggles, we are setting them up to topple over as adults. They will never develop deep roots of character, perseverance, and resiliency. Without trial-and-error learning, they won’t develop the problem solving skills they need as adults. And, most importantly, we risk losing the opportunity of teaching them to turn to God for help, which deepens their spiritual roots.
Remove the protective layer and allow their roots to grow deep so they will one day stand independently and tall!
“Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life…” James 1:12a