Recommended Reading: Jeremiah 42:1 thru 43:7
Anyone reading this that is a parent will know how difficult it can be at times to make a child understand why they need to follow your rules and directions – how to make them grasp that you most likely do know best.
Children come into this world with an inborn curiosity, so consequently they will want to explore and do things to satisfy that curiosity. Our responsibility is to guide them. We want them to be free enough to learn and grow normally; however, we also want to guide them in such a way that they learn what is right and wrong, as well as what could be harmful, even dangerous for them.
The personalities of children range from a meeker, obedient, easy-going child, to a strong-willed, push-you-to-your-limits child, and everything in between. As a child grows and begins to be influenced by others – babysitters, teachers, friends – you may see their level of obedience changing. They want to fit in and spread their wings, so gradually over the years you will see them distancing themselves from you and your directions.
You can rather suddenly find yourself in the position of going from the smartest person in your child’s world, to someone that they view as “stupid”. From being someone that they would cling to, to someone to be avoided at all costs. It can be painful for a parent to find themselves feeling rejected and unnecessary to that cherished child.
As a child moves into and through the teen and early adult years, much of the trust in you and reliance on you fades. It truly is a natural progression of life, but that does not mean it is easy. About the only thing you can do is try to assure them of your unconditional love – no matter how badly they treat you at times; and, try to encourage them to stay on the right track in order to be a healthy, intelligent, independent adult. Usually, at some point, they will once again come around and recognize how smart you really were all the time and how all you did was for their best interests.
However…there are some children that totally reject their parents and take a path that is so opposed to what their parents tried to instill in them, that it is overwhelmingly painful. I fortunately did not experience this diabolical behavior with my children. But, I have had friends that did, so I have seen how painful and disheartening it can be. As parents, all we can do is the best we can – we are not perfect and all-knowing, we will most definitely make mistakes. We never can know when any one decision we make can turn the tide and cause rebellion to rise up in our child, resulting in behavior that is grievous to us.
At times our children, as teens and young adults, may come to us and actually ask for some guidance for something important to them – something that they are struggling with. That can be a stellar moment for us. So we thoughtfully give our opinions and advice, hoping to guide them in the right direction. But then, they take our logical, intelligent advice and totally reject it – going the wrong direction, leading them down a path that might not end well. Disappointed and hurt, about all a parent can do is pray that they come through to the other side without too much damage to their life. So you have to wonder…why would they even ask for your help then totally reject it? That may be the million dollar question. But it is not a unique situation at all.
You can read story after story in the Bible – especially in the Old Testament – about how the people would walk closely with God the Father, then just turn their backs on Him and go the opposite way. This after seeing miracle after miracle of God’s love and support. They would reject Him in the harshest of ways. Rather than going into the temple to worship Him and show their love to Him, they would build useless idols of wood and stone then worship them instead. Then when things would turn and go wrong for them they would run back, begging for forgiveness and help. This is not so unlike a child that disobeys, ends up getting hurt, then runs back to the parents to fix things and salve the pain that they brought upon themselves.
If you read the passage I recommended in Jeremiah, you will find the people of Judah in a real pickle as a result of distancing themselves from God and His principles. They are fearful of the king of Babylon and they are considering running off to Egypt. So, they went to the prophet Jeremiah and asked him to pray to God on their behalf – asking God to tell them “where we should go and what we should do.” (Jer. 42:3b NIV)
Jeremiah agreed and told them he would tell them all God had to say, holding nothing back. Then those rebellious “children” said this in Jer. 42:5-6 (NLT): “Then they said to Jeremiah, ‘May the Lord your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.’” Sounds pretty convincing and wise does it not?
Ten days later Jeremiah came back to them with their word from God. They are told that they should remain where they are, that God will save them from their enemy and restore them so that they can flourish. He also warns them that if they do not follow these directions, but do as they want, they will not survive. That is a stark difference – why would anyone choose to do anything other than follow the advice? Their Father knew best and did impart His wisdom and advice to them. It was then up to them.
Then in Jer. 43:1-3 (NIV) it says: “When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God—everything the Lord had sent him to tell them—Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, ‘You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.’”
The leaders, to the detriment of them all, then lead all the people out of Judah to Egypt and verse 7a (NIV) says: “So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord…” and it did not go well with them. You cannot help but wonder when you read this account, why would the people ask for their Father’s guidance, and even pledge to follow it no matter what, then turn and do the opposite?
This really was no different than our children doing the same to us, their parents; and, let us not kid ourselves – even as adults we are guilty at times of doing the same thing. Asking our heavenly Father – who is perfect and would not give us any guidance but what is right for us – then rationalizing and deciding we know better. What we need to always remember is that our Father Knows Best and we should lean into His guidance and not our own.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)
Written by Karran Martin – August 28, 2020