Yes, everybody has parents. That shouldn’t bear repeating, but it does. We think we know this, but all it takes is one bad memory to lose all perspective on it. Everyone alive on this earth has parents, and those parents messed up.
Romans 3:10-12 HCSB
There is no one righteous, not even one.
There is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away;
all alike have become useless.
There is no one who does what is good,
not even one.
That says it all, I think. There are no good parents because there are no good people. Even Billy Graham, a Christian father and a man of great faith, admitted that he was a crap dad. This is just the reality, not a crisis.
So everyone has to deal with their parents – some bad, some terrible, some horrific. But I don’t think that we take that into account when we’re walking out the sufferings of childhood. We put on blinders and forget that God deals with many blessings and curses in terms of generations.
Deut. 30:19 HCSB
I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today
that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.
Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.
The choice of one person affects the generations that follow.
Exodus 20:5b-6 HCSB
For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,
punishing the children for the fathers’ sin,
to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
but showing faithful love to a thousand generations
of those who love Me and keep My commands.
Our natural human ambition is so enamored of the idea of winning hundreds, maybe thousands of strangers to the Lord. And there’s clearly a place for dynamic evangelists, so I’m not knocking it. But maybe it’s no small thing to do the work of breaking the generational sins and curses of family through repentance and forgiveness. A thousand generations in your family will know God’s faithful love, IF you’re willing to do the work that the previous generations wouldn’t do.
In Martha’s first book, All and Only, she deals mightily with the issue of suffering by looking at the lives of Joseph, Esther, David and Daniel, to name but a few. The suffering of these men and women was eclipsed only by the power of God’s move within their lives. The suffering was the fire to prepare, train and sanctify them so that God could use them to change the course of history.
A thousand generations is quite a tide to turn, and it has to start somewhere! The Lord showed me that I was so busy inspecting the trees of my own hurt that I was missing the massive forest stretching all around me. Someone in every family has to be willing to wrestle it out before God, breaking the line of those who hate Him. Do we minister to strangers when God has asked us to be a Joseph and reconcile our entire family to Him? Is being a Joseph not a high enough calling?
My suffering – and yours – did not take place for nothing. There is a purpose behind all that God does. When dealing with my parents, the Lord mercifully lifted my eyes off myself, which led to the question, “Is there a higher purpose than I know?”
I believe that there is, and I’m willing for that purpose to be grounded in THIS life that He gave me. I have but to look at my parents, my aunts and uncles and grandparents, my brothers and sisters, and my precious nephews to appreciate what’s at stake here. I don’t want to miss the forest for the trees. A thousand generations? My suffering seems rather small in light of the reward.