My older daughter went to soccer camp last week. Camp was all day, and it's been unseasonably hot. She also had soccer tryouts for her competive team in the evenings.
She left the house at 7 in the morning and not returned home until 6 at night or later every night last week. She fought through dehydration and an ankle that someone kicked hard enough to leave a mark.
One night after camp and tryouts, she walked in the door, looking like a raccoon. The deep purple circles under her eyes were the first thing you saw. She looked like she hadn't slept in days. A good night's sleep rejuvenated her, but I'm she made up for lost sleep on Saturday morning.
The other morning, I read Isaiah 40:30 and had to pause. It says, "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall," and I thought of my daughter.
I think we have a tendency to look at our kids and think, they're young, they'll bounce back. We pack their schedules full and think nothing of letting them run hard from dawn to dusk. The truth is found, though, in Isaiah 40:30. Youth doesn't protect you from getting tired. Youth may help you bounce back from a late night or two, but a perpetually tired child is one who is not at his or her best.
When our kids are tired, small things become big crises, words become weapons and the tear quotient rises exponentially. Our kids need rest, and they need us to be advocates for that rest.
Rested children learn better. They think better. They react to circumstances better. Rest is something worth fighting for. And in this go, go, go world, we may have to fight for our kids to get rest.
To get the needed rest, we may have to stand up against the crowd and say no to activities that start too late. We may need to insist our four-year-olds take a nap even though none of their friends do. We may need to tell the neighborhood kids that our kids can't come out to play after 8 p.m.
And we definitely need to teach our kids that God is the ultimate source of rest. He can provide rest not just for weary bodies but for weary souls. When our kids are tired of mean girls and bullying boys, when their souls have been crushed by an unkind word, when they don't think they can conquer another math concept, God offers them rest. Isaiah 40:31 says "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Rest is important to God, and it should be important to us. Even though our kids are young, they still need rest. Youth doesn't protect them from being tired, and we, as their parents, must fight to protect their rest and guide them to the source of true rest.