There are interesting similarities between man and the world around him. I was recently speaking with a friend about how we see the wisdom of God in nature. I recounted to her how the Tern, a ground nesting bird, endeavors for the preservation of their young. From the incubation period, around a month, to the first days of life, until flight capabilities develop, the parent terns work in tandem to ward off predators. All birds have predator issues, but with ground nesters the threat is from all quarters. I am blessed to be able to observe these birds give there all for their young every spring, and am always amazed at the self sacrificial love they have for their helpless progeny. Mothers lie flat and still over their eggs when a threat is detected. The father is always near to act as a decoy, to feign injury, and lure the threat in his direction. Never sleeping, always vigilant, and yet never showing a hint of despair at the perilous position their creator has placed them in. Their entire continuation of the species is a calamity in the making.
The plight of the Tern bears a remarkable resemblance to my recent topic because as human parents, particularly Christian parents, the raising of our children can be fraught with danger. Sickness, worldly influence, lack of achievement or willingness to thrive, and many other fears assault our weak faith all along the process. We doubt the wisdom of our Creator in placing us in the position of rearing young and despair over what will become of our brood. I can’t look into the little red eyes of these Terns and see what is going through there minds, but I think I can assume they don’t fret over their predicament.
Edward Lawrence, in the second chapter of his treatise, calls having unsaved children a calamity. We don’t use that term often in our vernacular, but we have the wisdom of Solomon to give us quite an accurate description of the calamitous nature of our unregenerate offspring. “To have a fool for a son brings grief; there is no joy for the father of a fool.” (Prov. 17:21) “A foolish son is his father’s ruin.” (Prov. 19:13) The very fact that children can bring pain and grief to a parent who, like the bird, loves them sacrificially, is the very definition of evil. A child can never in a lifetime repay a parent for their love and devotion. The human equivalent to Christ on the cross is the ill treatment of a parent. I think back to my own parents and how I treated them. Though they are vane regrets, I cannot help but see what grief my foolishness caused my parents and be struck by the evil of my disregard of the fifth commandment.
“He who robs his father and drives his mother out is a son who brings shame and disgrace.” (Prov. 19:26) How ever you envisage the picture portrayed by this verse the ugliness is apparent. For parents to bear this pain is heart rending. Parents see fear. Fear of great sin lurking in the future of the child if their ways are not mended can be paralyzing. God’s heavy judgement waiting to be unleashed leaves the parent constantly in fear of what might befall the child around the next bend in the road. Then there is the constant horror of eternal damnation as the last stop on their voyage.
Then there is anger. Parents experience anger toward the children for willful disobedience. We fail to recognize the fallen condition that drives the rebellion. The fact that their rebellion might provoke God’s wrath has no affect on them. Our righteous indignation on God’s behalf is but a ruse for our own affront.
In the end there is sorrow. The parents knowledge of God makes their heart bleed to see children scorn and despise the glory of Christ. Fear, anger, and sorrow are interchangeable emotions for the parent. I once heard someone say that every example of anger was proceeded by fear and followed by sorrow.
Search your own experience and identify this emotional pendulum. If you are new to the journey, look more closely at the object of your care. Evolving in their tiny being are the very mechanisms for your own calamity. If you are veteran parents you are well read on the subject. For parents to have unregenerate children may truly be described as a calamity, for it is a most difficult trying of our faith. However, it is a case for the application of God’s direction see the bright side. Our hope comes in the purification promised by these refining fires, from which we will be made stronger. To have our reliance on ourselves dissolved and our trust in God renewed is a blessing. To become dependent on God’s parenting and not our own is the height of accomplishment.
“Post tenebras lux,” after darkness light, was the call of the protestant reformation. This could also be the mission statement of Christian parents, for out of the darkness of fiery trials we look to the means of Grace for the light of God’s revelation on how to bear up under the strain. In the next post we will apply the “Pollyanna” approach to parenting.