Close View of the Hands of an Infant and Parent
In our Thursday night Bible studies, we've been going through the book of Genesis. We've seen the best and the worst among the people God called His own. One of our men mentioned tonight that he is really enjoying this study because it makes the Bible characters that we always thought of as saints (figuratively speaking) become human to us. Which they were.
Tonight we studied chapter 38, the story of Judah and Tamar. It's a sordid story about a man's wandering away from God so far that he ended up with a woman he thought was a pros*titu*te, but was actually his widowed daughter-in-law. Since we already know that Judah's brother Joseph was a righteous man who fled sex*u*al immorality, my husband made the comparison that Judah and Joseph were brought up in the same family, with the same standards and rules, but had proven to be opposites as adults. As Wes and I were discussing that earlier today, we made some observations about how children from the same home will turn out to be so different from each other as adults.
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First, we noticed that the parents can do everything right but the child turns out bad. We've seen it many times among our family, friends, and acquaintances. Good, faithful parents will train their children faithfully, only to see one or more of them wander away from God as adults. We've seen in our Bible study that Jacob, Judah and Joseph's father, wasn't perfect, but he did have a relationship with God and had taught his children about God. They were with him at Bethel, when he commanded them to consecrate themselves and get rid of their idols. He was trying to do right, but several of his children went away from God.
Father Walking with Child in the Park
On the other hand, we noticed that the parents can mess up pretty bad, and the child still turns out good. We've seen kids come from horrible situations and go into the ministry or become faithful church members who work hard for the Lord as laymen. Also, good parents just plain old mess up sometimes (I think we all fall into that category at one time or another), but their children still go on to serve the Lord in spite of their parents' mistakes. We see this in Joseph's life. He was taken from imperfect parents at an early age and thrust into the ungodly society of Egypt, yet he is known today for his strong character.
Mother And Child Walking Through Park
Another observation that Wes made is that no matter what we do as parents, our children still have a free will. We can correct them, train them, discipline them, nurture them, but when all is said and done, our children's obedience to God is decided in their own hearts. Loving God is an act of the will; we do it because we want to. The same is true for our children. Again, Jacob was a spiritual mess at times, deceiving, being deceived, and cheating his brother. He sinned, but one son chose his own way while another chose God's way. They each had a free will.
One thing we both thought of is that God showers His grace upon us and our children, bringing joy out of mourning and giving beauty for ashes! Many times, when a child goes away from the Lord, He comes back to serve God in a way that no one ever expected, or God uses a bad situation to bring someone to Christ. In the instance of Judah, one of the twin boys conceived in Judah's sin with Tamar became the earthly line through which Jesus came! Joseph himself, years later in Egypt, said that God had meant his bad situation for good, to preserve his family. No person is so bad that God can't change him; no situation is so bad that God can't redeem it!
Peace of Thy Children
These thoughts can really encourage us as parents! We all want to do our best, but we will all make mistakes and, yes - sin. But don't ever give up! Keep correcting, training, disciplining, nurturing . . . and if you've done all you can and your child disappoints you, remember that God can turn him around. It's all about His grace.