When Our Kids Struggle, We Struggle
When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah. Genesis 26:34-35
When our kids were young, like most parents, we encouraged them to participate in extracurricular activities. They tried basketball, volleyball, swimming, and even hockey. They swam well, but as they got older, they spent a fair amount of time on the bench in other sports. My wife and I just didn’t have a lot of natural athleticism to pass on to them. It’s not that we thought they had unrecognized talent. We just hurt for them, sitting on the bench, because we knew it was hurtful to them. We invest so much of ourselves in our kids that when they struggle, we struggle. This is simply what it means to be a parent.
As our kids grow up and become more independent, they naturally make more of their own decisions, not all of which are good ones. When we see them making poor choices, causing themselves misery, again, we hurt for them. We want what’s best for our children, so, when they struggle with life, we too struggle.
This is the story of today’s passage. In it, Esau – firstborn son of Isaac and Rebekah – married two women, neither of which his parents approved. Abraham had gone to great lengths to choose a suitable bride for Isaac, but Esau went his own way, marrying not one, but two gentile women. Esau chose a path that his parents saw as unhealthy and it grieved them greatly, making life bitter for them.
I can’t imagine what misery I put my parents through in my own addiction. If my kids one day struggle as I did, I’ll be an absolute wreck. Why would you allow this God? The answer to that question lies no further than my own life choices though. God loves me, but he’s allowed me to go my own way. So, here’s the real question – As God’s child, am I now living the life he desires for me? If not, then I’m currently grieving the heavenly father just as any child’s self-destructive choices grieves his or her parents.
When our children struggle, we struggle. Likewise, when we make unhealthy choices, God grieves for us. Just as we’ve poured ourselves into our children’s lives, the heavenly father has poured himself out for us. He longs that we daily abandon our way to follow his, experiencing the life, joy, and peace that comes only from him. God allows us to go our own way though and so we too, must do the same with our children.