I had a difficult and highly disappointing conversation with one of my sons the other day. After ending the discussion, I was just…. wrecked. I try to remain optimistic most of the time, but some times are just harder than others, aren’t they? I’m only human with limited understanding.
It baffles me how children raised in the same household, with the same values, common experiences, teachings, etc… can have such varying perspectives and beliefs.
And yet they do.
Most people are quite familiar with the parable of the prodigal son in the Bible; it was a story told specifically by Jesus to His followers, because sons and daughters will test us – have tested us – since the beginning. Jesus shared this specific narrative about children going astray because He wanted to comfort His children; He wanted to give them hope.
That’s what He does… give us hope.
Sons and daughters have challenged mankind from inception. One only need look at Adam and Eve; even God was not immune from His first creations rebelling against the order of things. Not only that, but the Bible is literally rife with children turning against, walking away from, or even plotting against their parents. (Not that my son is conspiring to have me killed, but in some ways, his words can have just as lethal an impact on my heart.)
Cain. He killed his brother Abel.
Isaac’s sons… Jacob & Esau… Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright.
Jacob’s sons… At first they wanted to kill their brother Joseph, because he was the favored one. Instead, they sold him into slavery.
David’s son Amnon. He raped his half-sister. David’s son Absalom, looking for revenge against his sister, had Amnon murdered. He then plotted to overthrow his father’s kingdom and was killed because of it. Upon hearing the news, David said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” So great was David’s love for his son, in spite of all Absolam had done against him, he would have died in his stead.
Love. It’s powerful. Unyielding, regardless.
Another of David’s sons, Adonijah, declared himself king before David died, even though it was David’s wish for Solomon to reign after him.
Solomon. His son and successor Rehoboam reigned with such a heavy hand, taxing his subjects mightily, that he split the kingdom built by his father and grandfather in two.
These were the children of God’s most favored and chosen individuals. The ones He built kingdoms upon. The ones whose lineage threaded all the way to Jesus. The ones whose hearts and minds and lives were focused solely and desperately on God.
They loved their children too. Just as much as you love yours. Just as much as I love mine.
Children don’t do what they’re supposed to do. They don’t do what we want them to do. They don’t see things the way we think they should see them. They don’t always believe what we believe.
Sometimes they do. But for the most part, they fight against doing it the way we, as parents, have done it. They struggle against becoming us. They want nothing more than to be themselves. Which, if we really get to the bottom of it, that’s who they should be. It’s who we want them to be. It’s who God intended them to be. They have to figure it out on their own. They have to learn, and fail, and flounder. And it doesn’t always mean that our way is their way.
More importantly, our way is not God’s way. Our time is not God’s time.
To myself, I must consistently repeat this: My way is not God’s way. My way is not God’s way.
My time is not God’s time. My time is not God’s time.
I don’t know how He’s going to work out my son’s story. My other son’s story. My daughter’s. My husband’s. I don’t even know how He’s going to work out mine.
I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I know that – literally – generations upon generations upon generations have dealt with the same fears and doubts and labors and pains that I have.
I do know that anything I want and hope for my children’s lives, God wants those things for them – for me – for you – infinitely more. If I am heartbroken, He is more so.
But most paramount, if I am hopeful, He IS the hope.