Jump Start # 2682
Exodus 2:24 “God heard their cry of grief, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (CEB)
It was one of those phone calls that is hard to deal with. The other day the phone rang. The person on the other end was crying. She was crying hard. This happens when there is bad news about a death. But no one had died. She was crying because of her children. Grown, married and own their own, they have chosen to abandoned God. They no longer believe in God. And, to make matters worse, they have threatened to keep their children from seeing their grandma if she keeps talking about God. The tears flowed. I wasn’t much help. What this good heart released is the coming train wreck for her children spiritually. Living without God leads to an eternity without God. She knew. She’s prayed. She’s talked. She’s preached to them. But on this day, her heart was broken and she needed someone to talk to. I’m glad she called.
There are many, many, in fact, too many families like this. I have done so many funerals for a dear brother or sister in the Lord and at the funeral are all of these kids and grandkids show up. Never seen them before. They live in the area. They never worshipped with the one who was departed. At the funeral they come out of the woodwork. You meet them, say some kind things to them, but as soon as the funeral is over, you never see them again. So tragic.
Our verse shows the heart break and pain that Israel felt under the heavy oppression of Egypt. They cried. They wanted relief. They needed help. God raised up Moses to deliver His people. Life can be hard. Tears can be more common than smiles. Sometimes it’s hard to sit in worship and see generations of families, all close, loving and worshipping together. You see that and realize that your family is not like that. Your family may never be like that. And, with that the guilt starts. You wonder what you did wrong. You wonder if you were too harsh with them. You wander what these other families did that you didn’t do. And, the tears flow.
Let’s look at some lessons:
First, God sees our tears. Sometimes the preacher doesn’t know what to say. Sometimes no one knows what to say. You want things better, but the people you love so much do not care. They are not moving and you can’t change them. All you can do is cry, especially at night.
The Psalmist said, “You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” (56:8). Putting tears in a bottle—it’s as if God was saving them. Those tears were keepsakes for God. A broken heart that wants the best for others, God takes notice. This helps us to understand that you are not alone in how you feel. Not only are you not alone, but you have the greatest help anyone could have, God. God can put people in place that you cannot. God can do things that no one else can. God sees your tears. And, God has been there. Israel is described through the prophets both as a child and a wife to God. The child was rebellious. The wife was unfaithful. God pleaded for His people. They would not listen.
Second, sometimes prodigals do not come home. The Luke 15 story ends happily with the prodigal home with his father. Some prodigals would rather stay with pigs and they do. Some never come to their senses. Some would rather die than come home and many do. The Lord’s parable is not about a run-a-way boy, but a forgiving Father. We can pray, plead, cry, hope, promise, threaten, but that still won’t move some.
Third, we must remain true to God. Moving half way to the pig pen isn’t a good solution. Selling out what you believe so that some would come is buying their commitment. That doesn’t work. Promising a prodigal that if he comes back to the Lord, you’ll stop attending Wednesday nights will only weaken you and shows how little commitment you have. We must love the Lord above our family. God must always be first.
Fourth, some do not want to talk or reason about these things. The caller told me that her son does not believe in the Bible. “Great, I said. Where did it come from? Man? If man, how come there are things written in the Bible long before anyone knew them? How about prophecy being fulfilled? If from man, why can’t man write another book even close to this? Where’s the proof that man wrote this book?” Fair questions, if one wants to intellectually discuss these things as adults. But most don’t. Most don’t act like adults. They say, “I don’t believe,” without any reason, proof or evidence. They don’t want to, so they don’t.
The Bible does not apply only to those who want to believe. Deny it. Attack it. Try to destroy it. Criticize it. But in the end, you still are accountable to what it says. In the end, you’ll face the God that you say doesn’t exist. In the end, you’ll see that the Bible was true all along. Having a friendly conversation is a starting point. Let them throw fast balls. Give me the best reason why you don’t believe. Let’s look at that. But, most don’t want to talk about it, think about it, or spend any time on it. Just leave me alone, because I do not believe.
Finally, what can be said to a tearful parent who feels all alone because her family wants nothing to do with her faith? Understand, you are not alone. The Lord is with you. Your church family loves you and will support and encourage you. Pray. Continue to pray. Always pray. Continue to set the right example before their eyes. Say the name of the Lord in a thankful and honorable way. For instance, rather than saying, “It sure is a nice day,” say, “This is a nice day that the Lord has given us.” You are sprinkling the Lord in your conversation. Some will need a little pushing. Others, that’s all it takes and they will cut you off forever. Read your family and know how to approach them. Find little things to share, such as our “Quick quotes” on our website. Always be kind, compassionate, humble and helpful. Don’t be mean. Don’t get ugly. And, don’t give up!
The tears of our hearts are hard to deal with. Thankfully, we don’t carry these things on our own.