Those of us who have adult children experience great pain as we watch them go through life’s difficulties. Our children and grandchildren face a more hostile and wicked world than we did as we grew up. They live in a day where truth entangles with lies in an ongoing assault, and faith falters when it is no longer rooted in truth.
One of the deceitful lies of the enemy is that our adult children's wrong and painful decisions are a result of our parental mistakes and errors. Ultimately, God does hold us, as parents, responsible for the decisions and responses we choose to make in our own lives. However, as parents, we are not responsible for the failings of our children. There are many godly parents in the Bible who had rebellious or wicked children. Eli, Samuel, and many of the godly kings of Judah remind us that God-honoring parents do not always produce God-honoring children.
Sometimes, however, our personal sins will result in our children’s rebellion and even betrayal, such as happened with Absalom, the son of King David. Such consequences must be endured until God has had the opportunity to accomplish all that He desires in the lives involved, and at times we must hold on for years or even decades to see God’s desired result come to fruition.
Because much of life is beyond our understanding, we cannot allow bitterness to take root when things get difficult with our adult children. Rather, we should realize that everything we face provides us with an opportunity to grow and learn, and we must choose God no matter what comes our way.
Both of us (Bruce and Heather) know of victory in our adult children's lives. But we also deeply and painfully know of failure, lack, betrayal, lies, disappointment, rejection, and loss. We know that sometimes adult children choose to blame rather than grow. We know what it is to keep praying when the hoped-for answers do not come.
But, in all of that, we are assured that God can use the trials and challenges in our lives as parents to grow us spiritually and develop our compassion for others, our acceptance of ourselves, and our love for Him. God is not obligated to your (or our) version of a happy ending. Based on His Word, He is obligated to our good as we conform to the image of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:28-29 reminds us that good is always connected to how well each of us reflects Christ.
Therefore, this week of prayers is designed to help you conform to Christ in your heart, mind, and actions. Reflecting Jesus Christ can be summarized through the attributes of His Spirit, which we find listed for us in Galatians 5:22-23 and can be summarized as follows:
The extent to which your own heart and your adult children’s hearts reflect these qualities will determine the level of spiritual growth experienced on the journey of life. While degrees, jobs, titles, income, and the like are often what our culture looks to in order to designate success or failure, God looks to the heart. He looks to these nine attributes of His Spirit, which ought to define each of us as His children.
Parenting well in today’s culture is a difficult task. It is also a role that the enemy seeks to tear down and destroy. No parent has fulfilled their role perfectly. But we take comfort in knowing that no one is outside the reach of God’s overarching grace and redemption.
For the rest of the week, we’ll examine the parental traps that hinder and limit the joy and contentment of parents who feel weighed down by burdens that lead them to feel despairing and defeated. As you read about the parental traps so many of us fall into, our hope is that you’ll come to know freedom from those traps and, as a result, experience more powerful times of prayer for your children.
Lord, free me from guilt, comparison, and the bonds of wishing I’d done better. God, I have failed as a parent in certain areas at specific times. Had I the wisdom and maturity that I have now, I may have acted differently or made wiser choices. But I didn’t, and I must live with that reality. Help me be honest with myself, with You, and with my adult children. Free me from pretense. Free me from perfectionism. Help me lift the shield of faith, knowing that Your forgiveness and grace can cover all. In Jesus’ name, amen.