“I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.” – II Samuel 7:14-16
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” – Psalm 119:71
“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” – Hebrews 12:5-6
I’m an easygoing, conflict-avoiding, peace-loving marshmallow of a person. When God is in control, it is my best quality, and when I am in control, it is my worst. Because, as I’m learning a little more every day, marshmallows tend to get roasted in the fires of parenting and eaten alive by their stronger-willed, energy-endowed, under-aged counterparts.
Okay, so maybe that illustration is a little graphic, but I must tell you that, in my ongoing personal study of God’s Word, I’m finding more and more graphic examples to prove that point. Take David who, for all his conquests and successes, was pretty much a parenting disaster. With one son who raped his stepsister, another who killed that first son, and that same murderous son being the first of two that would try to take the kingdom from their father by force, David desperately needed God as a co-parent.
But before all of that tragic craziness unfolds, God sends the prophet, Nathan, to deliver a message to David in II Samuel 7. In response to David’s declaration that he wanted to build a house for God (Verses 1-2), God replies that He will reserve that task for David’s successor, but the Lord also lays out tremendous promises to David’s royal line. God will eternally establish the throne of David, first through Solomon, and much later, through Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 23:5, Revelation 5:5, 22:16). But in between the twice-spoken blessing (Verses 12 and 15) is a unique promise of parenting help from the Almighty, Himself.
God vows to be a Father to David’s successor, and as such, God will lovingly “chasten” or discipline him as needed – but with endless mercy (II Samuel 7:13-15).
Too often, we bristle at the word “chastening”. We prefer to see hardships as “trials”, and in our kids’ lives, we often see them as problems we can fix for them. But I beg you to wrap your head around this: Chastening is good. It is God taking a personal, parenting interest in us and chasing us down, with the intent of bringing us home. It is an open door with mercy on the other side, and no matter how old your kids are, you should want it for them (Psalm 118:18, Proverbs 3:11-12, I Timothy 1:16, Revelation 3:20).
Solomon would succeed his father in grand fashion, building the temple of his father’s dreams, and sporting wisdom that made him a curiosity among kings and queens (I Kings 3:11-14, 5:12, 6:1, 10:4-7). But God would cut him down to size, teaching him the emptiness of vanity and the consequence of idolatry (I Kings 11:9-13, Ecclesiastes 1:12-14), all while providing endless and undeserved mercy.
Today, our kids don’t need the delusion of parent-fueled success, and they don’t need quick and painless rescue from the ramifications of a life lived without God. I know it hurts, but just like us, they sometimes need the purposeful reality check of chastening, and sometimes, the favor lies in letting them fail.
Keep loving your prodigals, and pray for them without ceasing, but don’t short-circuit God’s providential process of chastening in their lives (Hebrews 12:5-13). Remember that God loves your child with a more perfect love than you could ever muster, and while we are engineering the relief of the moment, He is working out the redemption of eternity (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, II Peter 3:9, I John 3:1). Stop saving your child from the circumstances that God may be using to save their souls.
By all means, parent your children, especially, while they are children (Proverbs 22:6, 22:15, 29:17). Pour all the time, all the love, and all of God’s Word into them that you possibly can. Don’t shy away from discipline, and co-parent with a Bible-preaching, Bible-teaching church. But if they stray as adults, let God do the heavy lifting, understanding that He often uses hard times to reach hard hearts (Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-8). And let God, and only God, tell you when to rescue them, and when to release them to His chastening hand.
Today, I am grateful for the God who chased me down and chastened me, when I needed it. And I’m glad the King of Glory promises to love my son as his own and give him the same royal treatment that He gave me.
May we raise our children wisely, pray for them endlessly, and muster the perfect love to “let go and let God” as needed.
Are you allowing God to work in your child’s life, or are you continuously rescuing them and short-circuiting His redemptive work? Ask God to help you to follow His lead, and let Him lead your child home.