Suffering, Challenge, and the Next Generation
Suffering, Challenge, and the Next Generation
Written By Calvin Lindstrom   |   06.19.24
Reading Time: 3 minutes

God gives to all parents a two-fold charge: We must be faithful with what the Lord has given to us, and we have a duty to teach and encourage the next generation to do the same. This is a great challenge that can only be accomplished by God’s grace.

Even so, we do and should ask the question, “How can we best teach and prepare our children?”

Nik Ripken (pen name), in his book The Insanity of God, shares a powerful account of suffering. Three pastors in the 1950s Soviet Union took the bold step of organizing a weeklong meeting that would bring together almost seven hundred young believers, a choice for which those three pastors would later suffer three years of imprisonment.

During the meeting, the reality of the tyrannical rule under which the young men and women in attendance were living was brought into sharp relief.

None of the nearly seven hundred young people owned their own Bible. They did not have hymnbooks, songbooks, or other religious recordings. The government had seen to erasing most physical representations of the gospel.

But together, the attendees possessed a great deal of knowledge that had been passed down by their faithful parents.

From memory, over the course of a week, these young people recreated the entirety of the four gospels with only a half-dozen mistakes, and together, they recalled the lyrics of more than 1200 songs, choruses, and hymns.

What an amazing testimony!

But here is the very sad part of this amazing story. When Ripken had the opportunity to meet with the attendees’ grandchildren, he asked them, “How much do the young people in your church know today?” The response was given sheepishly – not much.

They could only produce a handful of different stories from the gospels and only name just a few books of the Bible. So, what happened?

Ripken wrote:

“Under communism, the church had found a way to survive and often thrive. Scripture and holy song was its lifeblood. Now, in a much freer day for the church, Scripture and holy song did not seem nearly as important. This coda to the earlier story was sobering and sad.”

Deuteronomy 8:11-17 describes a situation very similar to this:

11   “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— 17 then you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’

What can we do to ensure the next generation does not squander whatever gains we have made?

There are no easy solutions. Reflecting on the story shared by Ripken, we can see something happened in passing down God’s truth. The great-grandparents were faithful in training their children.

But something was lost over the next two generations.

President Ronald Reagan once said,

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It has to be fought for and defended by each generation.”

Even more important is the duty given to parents to faithfully teach their children. It is also incumbent upon the next generation to then walk in God’s truth.

Is this your greatest priority for your children and grandchildren? Are you prayerfully taking action to see that they also walk in God’s truth?

May God have mercy upon us.

Calvin Lindstrom
Pastor Calvin Lindstrom has served as the pastor of the Church of Christian Liberty in Arlington Heights since 2006 and has worked in Christian education for over 23 years. He is blessed to be a husband and father of six children. He is also a long time board member for Illinois Family Action....
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