The Puritans said the benefits of family worship are so great they are “impossible to describe.” Nonetheless, in this series I’ll be attempting to highlight ten of its advantages.
The fifth benefit of homes gathering daily to read Scripture, sing and pray is that it teaches empathy in trial.
Godly homes aren’t naive
A wise pastor has said that to make a child love his home is to secure him against a thousand temptations.
Good parents should use family worship as a tool to make the home attractive to their children. But this doesn’t mean covering them in bubble wrap or shielding them from the pain and suffering in the world. On the contrary, godly homes talk about suffering a lot and use family worship to create concern for those who are experiences trials.
Four ways family worship teaches empathy
First, it quickly points the family to prayer. The first reaction to those in trial should be intercession. “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (Jms. 5:13). The Lord says: “Call upon me in the day of trouble” (Ps. 50:15). Those in the home who are suffering learn to ask for prayer. Paul did it (2Th. 3:1) but this isn’t easy for most people. In family worship, petitioning for prayer should be effortless. “In my distress I called upon the Lord” (Ps. 18:6).
Second, each member learns to carry one another’s burden (Gal. 6:2). Many leave the faith when trials first come (Mk. 4:17) rather than getting help to shoulder the load. Contrast this with the father who comes home with empty pockets to feed the family. He gathers the family, opens the Book and cries to his Father who is there to help (Hb. 4:16). Unlike the Pharisees who will not touch the burdens of others with one of their fingers (Lk. 11:46), this family gathers round and “encourages the fainthearted” (1Th. 5:14).
Third, the family sees trials as a normal part of the Christian life (Ac. 14:22). Job modeled this for his wife: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Jb. 1:21).
Finally, the family gets practice in encouraging those who are suffering. Suppose mother has just been diagnosed with cancer. How will father comfort her? As the tears fall, he sits with her and strokes her hand. “Kids, physical touch comforts” (Mk. 8:14-15). He reminds them that suffering has a purpose (Jn. 11:4; Rm. 8:28) and is incomparable to the joy in heaven (Rm. 8:18). He says it is impossible for God to do wrong (Jb. 34:10) though he often uses suffering to accomplish good (Gn. 50:20-21). The Lord sees and hears us in our suffering (Ex. 3:7) and will strengthen us in it (2Cor. 12:7-9). “The arrows are sharp,” father says, “but they’re shot from a loving Father.”
They watch their father ask for deliverance from cancer (Ps. 25:16-18) but he doesn’t demand it. In fact, mother is actually “sharing” with other Christians who have suffered likewise (Col. 1:24).
Can the family learn this at church? Yes. But intimate family worship has a unique way of preparing the family for trials.