God Understands and Is Compassionate Toward Parents of Prodigal Children

Many faithful Christian parents have been taught that Proverbs 22:6 is a sure-fire promise, not a general life principle. This, along with being told that if you parent a certain way your children will always make the right decisions and know the Lord, can plunge these dear parents into disillusionment and despair. If this describes you or someone in your church, I want to encourage you with this simple truth: God is the perfect Parent, and even he reared children who rebelled against him and went their own way! Therefore, I think the following excerpt from Stuart Scott’s devotional will convince you that God understands and cares.

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

God is the perfect Parent, and even he reared children who rebelled against him and went their own way! If your child is rebelling and even rejecting you, he understands what you are going through: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: ‘Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.’ . . . They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged” (Isa. 1:2, 4).

God knows what it is to be rejected by those whom he has loved and cared for (see John 1:11). He knows what it is like to see a loved one headed for disaster. He knows what it is to long for his children to return to their senses (see Matt. 23:37). He knows what it is to care for his children and want a different life for them, even when they have caused their own plight.

  • In all their affliction he was afflicted [though righteously and without need]. (Isa. 63:9)
  • The Lord waits [longs] to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. (Isa. 30:18)

The Father completely understands your situation and your anguish and is full of compassion for you (see 2 Cor. 1:3). Jesus Christ is able to sympathize with you and me as well. He, our High Priest, understands when we are weary or tempted to sin or despair. Our High Priest sympathizes with us because he too has been tempted. These temptations were very hard for Jesus as a man, but he did not sin.

The understanding of God should give us great comfort and confidence to approach his throne of grace for mercy and for power we do not have. Speaking about today’s passage, Charles Spurgeon says, “Lest the glow and brilliance of the word throne should be too much for mortal vision, our text . . . presents us with the soft, gentle radiance of that delightful word grace.” In our trials, God’s promise reveals his heart for us even when he allows suffering: “Though he cause [allows] grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men” (Lam. 3:32–33).

  • Reflect: In Scripture, God discloses to us what he went through with unbelieving Israel for more than five hundred years. As a parent, he knows what you are going through. He has been there.
  • Reflect: How can this truth help you with your prayer life and your relationship with God? Can anyone else understand or help you better than he?
  • Act: Make time to go to God through his Word for grace and comfort. You may want to adjust your commitments and your schedule for a season to allow more time for this.

*This post is a chapter excerpt from the 31-day devotional by Stuart Scott, Wayward Children: Finding Peace, Keeping Hope


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