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The Grieving Parent

The Grieving Parent

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.  Genesis 6:5-6

I know that very few of my addicted patients will find sustained recovery on the first try, but still, I invest of myself in every patient with whom I work. When my patients fail then, I try not to take it personally, but I am disappointed. In their relapse I grieve for their struggle because I know the misery of addiction and the stakes of this disease. I hope they come back. I hope they find recovery. But I know that they may not, and I know they may die in their disease. That’s the business I’m in. When a patient misses an appointment, I hope they just forgot. So, we’ll reschedule. But when they miss the next appointment as well, I know. They’re on the run. Maybe they’ll come back. Maybe they won’t. Sometimes they just walk away and sometimes, in their relapse, I become the enemy. This isn’t about me, but still, I feel a sense of loss. But I’m on your side. Don’t run away. Come back to recovery.

As I said, this isn’t about me, and I must be careful not to take it personally. What if though, this were my child? As invested as I may be in my patient’s lives, I’m exponentially more involved in my children’s lives. If my child walked away, embraced self-destruction, avoided me, and turned on me, I’d be absolutely devastated.

This is the grief of God in today’s passage – the grief of a father. God created man to live in paradise with him, enjoying their relationship forever. But for God to find joy in that relationship, he gave man a choice. Love isn’t love if it’s forced. So, he gave man free will. A few generations later, and we read that of the entire population on Earth, almost no one followed God anymore. God created man out of love and man responded with selfishness, hate, and rebellion.

For the one who’s been addicted, the easiest thing at any moment is to relapse into the old life. He may desire the joy of recovery, but frankly, recovery is hard work. Similarly, the most natural thing for us every day, is to simply follow our own path, turning our backs on God. Our way ultimately means misery, but still, we choose it. This is why the father grieves – He knows the life we could have as he sorrowfully watches the life we’ve chosen. And it grieves him to his heart.

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