We listen to a sermon together on Sunday evenings, and this week we heard John Piper speaking on ‘Parenting with Hope’ from Micah Chapter 7. We are currently choosing sermons with a focus on parenting, children or family life as we are keen to have a strong Biblical foundation for the choices we make, and are eager to hear different views and opinions discussed. (And if you as a reader, can recommend any resources that have helped you, please do so!)
Sometimes I wish things could be more prescriptive. For example, if you were to do A, B and C, then the guaranteed result will be X, Y and Z. But in His sovereign grace, God makes us unique individuals with free choice; we are not robots. Things will never be as simple as obeying a list of instructions, and the Pharisees (the religious people of Jesus’ day) discovered this time after time. God gives us freedom, but within that, He also gives guiding principles.
So how does one ‘Parent with Hope’? From Micah 7, we are encouraged to do so with a broken-hearted boldness. Whilst being convicted, and indeed broken-hearted, regarding our own shortcomings, failures and sin, we are reminded of the very nature of the God in whom we put our hope. ‘Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea’. (Micah 7:18-19)
Yes, there will be challenges along the way, sometimes severe trials. But we are encouraged not to focus on these, and not to focus on our humanity and our attempts to resolve these in our own strength. Rather, ‘If you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth. For you died, and your life his hidden with Christ in God’. (Colossians 3:1-3)
Sometimes I hear a sermon and ask myself, ‘Yes, but what does this look like?’ ‘How will this change the way I live today?’ ‘How will this change me, and help me walk closer to God?’ As I asked these questions last night, I was encouraged that God is far greater than any situation. And yet He also cares about the small details and no concern is too small for Him either. ‘Look at the birds of the air for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?’ (Matthew 6:26) I am encouraged by the examples given in the Bible of real individuals with very human strengths and shortcomings who put their trust in God, such as those summarised in Hebrews Chapter 11. I am reassured that when tempted to doubt, question or despair, that ‘No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it’. (1 Corinthians 10:13).
So, listen to the sermon if you have time (it is about 50 minutes). And be encouraged to put your trust and confidence in our amazing God as you seek to continue ‘parenting with hope’.