I recall hearing the scripture verse repeatedly quoted, “children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20) I surely appreciate the wisdom and truth contained in this verse, yet at least equally important is the verse far less often quoted that immediately follows. “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)
In my need to know and understand the vast problems that reign in our world, my mind forever churns, turning over and over again what I see, what I read, what I hear, what is happening in so many lives this world over, and I look to scripture while I search my own heart and mind, prayerfully seeking understanding. Much of scripture articulates the unique and wonderful ways God made men and women, mothers and fathers, and the unique gifts and responsibilities He gave to each. Much is said of both. I find it interesting to note the particulars He details for each and I trace the manifestations of His Words in my life and in the lives of others.
Clearly, the relationship between each parent to a child is a monumental significance, yet we find staggering statistics that detail the impact of a father on the spiritual life of the children entrusted to their care. I wonder then, about this carefully penned verse, “fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” The hand of a father draws the map of authority for the life of a child. Even in his absence, by design, it is his hand that first maps the world for those who come after him. When authority is used to rule in excess or in the absence of honor, dignity and respect, a child is provoked to anger and becomes discouraged. When a man chooses to refuse his responsibility and leaves a gaping hole in the life of a child, the absence of demarcated boundaries creates unease and lack of safety; a child is provoked to anger and becomes discouraged.
The great interdependence between men and women that God designed is a beautiful portrait of oneness, intimacy, and love. Neither male nor female is devalued in any way, we are simply designed differently on purpose, to be different yet complimentary. We are to help and care for one another and while doing so nurture our children with love that overflows into them. Home and family was created to be a wellspring of joy, peace, caring where growth abounds and love reigns. Honor toward all is to be fostered and solid lives built within the home. Oh my…how far out into the wilderness have we wandered? Devaluation of motherhood, of purity, of life, of children, of men…it is rampant and culturally ingrained. it is everywhere to see, all anyone need do is look. There is no family free from the tainted views starkly oppositional to those set forth by our loving Creator in Scripture. It isn’t safe to turn on a television or radio without risk of hearing vulgarity. How then are we to fight the good fight and not lose hope? And we surely must never lose hope!
Since the fall in the garden, when Adam and Eve gave up paradise to have it their own way, these deviations away from God have continued. We have all fallen short of the glory of God, but He bids us to return, to enter into His rest. Paul admonished us to pray and he demonstrated the great love and hope he had for all in Ephesians 3:14-19 “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depths, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.”
The answer for us all, for every discouraged soul, is to find our peace, our fulfillment, our steadfast anchor in this unfailing, eternal love of our Savior. For every father who recognizes the error of his ways, there is hope, there is forgiveness to all who seek it in humble repentance. Pursuing God and His righteousness frees us from the bondage of painful pasts and opens us to hope of eternal glory…Can you imagine a world without sin? Without harm? Without worry or fear?
Paul exalted the Lord with these words after sharing the deep desires of his heart toward the church at Ephesus, “Now unto HIm that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, through all ages, world without end. Amen.” He leaves us with an eternal perspective and true impression of the God of all hope and grace.
Understanding our hurts and putting them in proper perspective can alleviate unnecessary and fruitless ruminations. Makes me think of the old testament verse, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee.” Trust in the Lord forever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)