A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

Being a parent means being vulnerable to unexpected suffering. From health and safety concerns (“Will my child survive to adulthood unharmed and whole?”), to worries about success and happiness (“Will my child make good life decisions?”), to issues of character ( Will she overcome her self-centeredness” ?), there are many ways for parents to be hurt through our children. Additionally, of fundamental concern for Christian parents is whether or not our children will put their trust in Jesus Christ. How do we handle these possibilities? We can try to ignore them, but life doesn’t always accommodate us. We can choose to worry and wear ourselves thin. We can try to create our own “Bible Code” of promises that we can hold God accountable to.  Or we can renew our minds with God’s word so the truth, wisdom and confidence of the gospel can guard our hearts and minds.

If I were to boil down gospel hope into one phrase it would be this: God definitively demonstrated the full extent of his faithfulness, love, mercy, goodness and justice when the Unique Son entered human history to be a willing sacrifice for human evil. Since God has shown his character once and for all in the person and work of Jesus, we can choose to trust Him and experience a freedom of mind and heart that does not depend on our life circumstances.

GOD SUFFERED
A rescued and renewed humanity was so valuable to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that the Father sent the Son into the world (John 3:16). Disease and death are so hateful to God that the Son took them on himself to destroy them (Acts 3:15, Hebrews 2:14). Having conquered death, he always lives to intercede on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25) and his Kingdom is growing, culminating in the conquering of death (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).

Conclusion: Human sickness, frailty and death cannot undo the New Life. Even though we as parents may experience the pain of watching our children suffer, perhaps even die before we do, the Good News of Jesus the King removes the sting of death.

GOD PROVIDES
If we are to trust God with our own lives, let alone the lives of our children, we have to first listen to what he promises. After all, it is unjust to demand from God a promise He never gave. A few things not mentioned in the Bible: college acceptance, financial stability, retirement benefits, protection from the earthly consequences of foolishness and sin. Jesus did say that if we set our hearts on the things of God’s Kingdom we could trust that he would take care of our basic needs (Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus also promised suffering and a degree of persecution when we live like he did (John 15:20. Yet he also assures us that he has overcome the source of our suffering (John 16:33). Furthermore, in Christ our children can have the highest status possible: the right become Children of God (John 1:12-13) and co-inheritors of Eternal life with Christ (Romans 8:17).

Conclusion: The Good News about Jesus enriches our kids beyond anything a Fortune 500 company or government pension could do and offers a security that not even death or taxes can beat.

GOD TRANSFORMS
After his resurrection and assention, according to the long-standing promise of God, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit into the world (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17, Jeremiah 31:33-34, Hebrews 8:10-12). He brings conviction, cleansing & renewal, transforming power (Titus 3:5-6) and understanding to live like Jesus (John 16:7-15). His purpose, to draw people into relationship with the Father through the Son, stems from his desire to rescue all who will come to him (2 Peter 3:9).

Conclusion: Connected to the life of God through the Holy Spirit, our children have everything necessary to develop godly character (2 Peter 1:3-4)

GOD SEEKS
The last concern “Will my child receive or reject the gospel?” is in many ways the most painful. The other questions and answers grow from this one. Rather than hunt through scripture for promises that we can force God to keep in a legal fashion, the hope we have is grounded in the revealed character of God. Right out of the gate God promises to send a rescuer to crush the power of the Deceiver whose lies had corrupted humanity (Genesis 3:15). In his covenant with Abraham, God promises a descendent who will bless all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3). Through the nation of Israel, YHWH makes a case study of his long-suffering, merciful, loyal love (Exodus 34:6-7) while consistently giving examples of his love for all people (Jonah 4:11). When Jesus comes on the scene he says he has not come for those who are morally pure but for the lost, the sinners, the strays (Luke 15:1-32, Luke 19:1-10). Finally, God’s own beloved Son, sent by the Father for this purpose, willingly takes the punishment we and our children deserved so that we could have life. No expense was spared.

Conclusion: We can rely on God’s amazing love to woo and guide our children to His Son despite sin, doubt, anger, pride, and hardness of heart. Anything that can be done will be done since God did not spare His own Son. (Romans 8:31-32)

GOD LISTENS
Finally, God who is a Father to us, want to walk with us, comfort us and carry us through our parenting anxieties. Parents, we must, we can, and we get to talk to our Father. We are called to cast our anxiety on Him for the very reason that He does care for us (1 Peter 5:7). We are reminded not to be anxious about anything but in everything to bring our requests before the Lord so that we can experience the peace beyond circumstances that only He can give (Philippians 4:6-7). If we parents, who are imperfect, can give and wish good things for our children, we can rely on our perfect, merciful, persistent Heavenly Father to exceed our care for our children in every way when we ask ( Luke 11:13).

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