I know children who were raised in Christian families, grown now, who rebelled against their parents and walked away from the Lord as teens. I know children who were homeschooled through high school, grown now, who have rebelled against their parents and walked away from the Lord. I have been praying for the families I know, who are going through this hell, for some time.
The pain these parents are in is like the grief if a child had died, except it is grief which time does not heal. In one instance, the daughter is living such a worldly, sinful, and dangerous lifestyle that the parents’ constant worry is that this will be the day they receive news of her death. Add to that the knowledge that if their daughter died in this state, they would be separated from her for eternity. And each time they see her, her increasing worldliness opens fresh wounds and deepens the pain of the existing ones.
The rejection they have endured from the church only adds to what must be the most painful thing a human being must live with that I can think of: a child’s rebellion against and rejection of his parents.
But as I was praying for one of these families last night, I realized something: the Lord Himself knows the pain the parents are going through. He understands it completely, for He has been there, and is still there. His firstborn, Israel, rebelled against Him time and time again, and rejected Him over and over to serve the gods of the people in whose land they dwelt.
It cannot be said that unrighteousness on the Lord’s part caused Israel to rebel from her Father, God Almighty, who delivered her from Egypt with signs, wonders, and an outstretched arm. Just as it cannot be said that the father in the parable of the prodigal son was responsible for his son’s rebellion, for Jesus uses that father to paint a picture of our heavenly Father.
For the parents of rebellious children, there is not much comfort to be found, in the church or in the world. But their heavenly Father sympathizes intimately with the pain they are living with. He has not rejected them, but is walking with them and is holding them closely and tightly through their grief. That is greatly comforting.