Summary: Part 5 in the Family series. This deals with the hurts every parent has in raising a family.


Part 5-Healing for Parents

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pastor Brian Matherlee

Have you ever spent a sleepless night because of a child? Ever had an argument with your kid you regret? Is there anyone here who feels guilty because their family seems to be so far from where we dreamed they would be? Well, welcome to the club—the club of hurting parents. It is an equal opportunity, non-discriminating membership.

We so often think we are the only ones who have the trouble we do. In the Bible we find parent after parent who is crushed by tragic circumstances involving their children.

• Adam and Eve lost not one, but two sons

• Isaac was tricked by his son and saw both sons fighting one another until the day he died.

• Manoah and his wife saw their son torn apart by the women he chose and break the vows made with God. These were Samson’s parents.

One parent in the New Testament embodies the heartbreak of many moms and dads. It is found in Luke 15. The story of the Prodigal Son is so familiar but I want to concentrate only on the father in verses 11-12 & 20.

Luke 15:11-12 (The Message)

“There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country.”

1. The Crisis

a. “I wish you were dead”. This might as well be what the younger son told his dad because that’s really the only way a younger son would get any inheritance. It wasn’t unusual for a father, before he died, to give a portion of the inheritance to the older son so that the aging parent could be cared for and the son would have provisions. But a younger son never had an estate divided up for him until death.

b. This father had his son choose the world over him. He knew the kind of boy he was and after his generosity it didn’t take long for the young man to bolt!

c. The crisis that comes into our life can lead to some destructive patterns written about in Margie Lewis’ book, “The Hurting Parent”:

i. Isolation-

1. Withdrawing from relationships because we don’t want to talk about and/or deal with the issues.

2. Isolation can come from our hurt pride that this kid has made us look bad or broken up the picture perfect family.

3. It can disrupt church family relationships (sometimes folks just don’t know what to say—but we don’t always have to say something—we can listen, hug, & allow grief and healing to run its course.)

ii. Rejection

1. Reject means to “cast off” or “refuse to accept”.

2. Cutting a child off emotionally or through communication (one family’s hurt was handled so poorly they announced their son had died and held a funeral.

3. Most of the time the rejection takes a passive form. We simply don’t talk about problems/disagreements. One parent said they praised their kid for good grades until they caught them with drugs. Then they withheld praise even when it was deserved.

4. Nobody does it intentionally—it is a destructive pattern we slip into to protect ourselves.

iii. Anger

1. Physical expression

2. Verbal expression

3. Peripheral expression-lashing out at others

iv. Guilt

1. What did I do wrong?

2. No parent is perfect…we all make mistakes.

v. Despair

1. Why won’t God answer my prayer?

2. “God can’t do it or won’t do it” is the thought pattern that leads to despair.

3. Habbakuk 2:3 in the Living Bible, “But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day.”

2. The Hope

Luke 15:20, “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him and kissed him.”

a. Fellowship—Galatians 6:2, “Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

i. The experiences we have are not unique and God will lead us to those who can understand and listen without judging.

ii. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable-but be wise who you are vulnerable with.

b. Unconditional love

i. (From “The Hurting Parent”, pg. 78ff.) A couple with two daughters still at home received a call from their wayward son late one night. He had called from a hotel and told his mom, “I’m hurting and really hungry…tell me what to do.” His voice drifted off and a strong voice broke in. It was the manager of the Holiday Inn 150 miles from the Farrone’s home. The whole family piled in the car and made the trip. When they arrived they thanked the manager and placed their inebriated, emaciated son in the front seat of the car. The father leaned over and buckled his son in. The stench of alcohol, vomit and weeks on the street was overwhelming. They had to roll the windows down to breath. It was then he felt he understood more completely what the Prodigal’s father did when he embraced him.

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