Tuesday, May 21, 2013

From Depths of Woe: The Assault on Mother's and Father's Day

Mama just got a whoopin' and if the blog posts about Mother's Day are any indication, Daddy's about to take it on the chin Father's Day. "I don't have a mother. I don't have any children. I don't like my mother. My mother doesn't like me. My mother let me down. My children are a disappointment to me. My children are ok, but at the end of the day today I'll still have dishes to wash and a house to clean." The laundry list of complaints went on and on. If this is the prevailing state of mind of the evangelical blogosphere, the country's greeting card companies are taking a hit. And so is Jesus.
My dad, brother and I always manufactured our own greeting cards. (To my daughter's horror, she just saw a few of them Mother's Day weekend while cleaning at Mom and Dad's.) If I take my cue from some of these other not to be named blogs, my poor dad will receive his made-with-my-hands card that woefully sings the greeting, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen."
Except plenty of folk have seen, lived, and have borne that trouble and sorrow. Is there any family immune from at least some? Granted, there are those families more troubled than others and there is always a line of wearied soldiers ready to swap grisly war stories. I know. I've stood in that line. If you are a child of God, the problem with remaining in that line is the difficulty in seeing that at the very  head is our Savior who leads us in triumphant procession. The war has been won at the cost of a Father's sacrifice and a Son's humiliation, pain and death and it is He who leads the victory parade. While we are called to bear one another's burdens and weep with those who weep, if we bear and weep without offering the hope or assurance of God's eternal purposes through Jesus Christ, we lose the benefit of this spiritual triage. Days, months and years focused on pain, hurt and harm cannot say with Job, "I have heard of you, but now my eye sees you." 

God means to turn our ashes into beauty and our cloak of heaviness into a garment of praise. The scriptures teach us how blessing can come from family-borne pain:
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. Ex. 20:12 Honoring God is first learned and practiced in the home by honoring parents. Learning and practicing the honoring of God lasts a lifetime.
Sing O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman, says the Lord. Is. 54:1,2. It is from a place of barrenness that God has gathered the children of His kingdom.
Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the Lord; look to the rock from which you were hewn...look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you. For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all  her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody. Is. 51:1-3. The heritage for which we long is found in Abraham and Sarah. My name is written in the Lamb's book of life. That is enough.
When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me. Ps.27:10.
Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will never forget you. See? I have engraved your name on the palms of my hands. Is.49:15,16a. How deep the Father's love for us. How vast beyond all measure.....
What you meant for evil, God meant for good. Genesis 50:20. Or Romans 11:35,36 For by Him and to Him and through Him are all things. These verses in tandem assure the faint of heart that pain and sorrow from the hands of those intended to impart goodness can be instruments used to create a picture of God's grace. They are the tutors of the soul that bring glory to God.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor. 12:9 For those weary of the road, His grace is sufficient for today.

Anna Waring's hymn makes for a perfect Father's Day prayer in a not-so-perfect world. For the next month we can pray and trust that He indeed is working all things together for good for those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.

Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see;
But I ask Thee for a present mind
Intent on pleasing Thee.

I ask Thee for a thoughtful love,
Through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles,
And to wipe the weeping eyes;
And a heart at leisure from itself,
To soothe and sympathize.

I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child,
And guided where I go.

Wherever in the world I am,
In whatsoe’er estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts
To keep and cultivate;
And a work of lowly love to do
For the Lord on Whom I wait.

So I ask Thee for daily strength,
To none that ask denied,
And a mind to blend with outward life
While keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space,
If Thou be glorified.

And if some things I do not ask
In my cup of blessing be,
I would have my spirit filled the more
With grateful love to Thee,
More careful, not to serve Thee much,
But to please Thee perfectly.

There are briers besetting every path
That call for patient care;
There is a cross in every lot,
And an earnest need for prayer;
But a lowly heart that leans on Thee
Is happy anywhere.

In a service which Thy will appoints
There are no bonds for me;
For my inmost heart is taught “the truth”
That makes Thy children “free.”
And a life of self renouncing love
Is a life of liberty.


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