The Rejected Parent
There are web sites for everything else but there are no web sites that I know of for “rejected parents”. No support groups where older parents can stand by one another when their adult children consistently refuse to communicate with them. The rejected parent hides behind doors of loneliness and shame .And if a father is hated by his adult son, his church will probably judge him if he shares his sorrow. They will let him know that the sad situation must be his own fault. If he had raised his child correctly this wouldn’t be happening.
Children are supposed to grow up and live their own lives. And parents of adult children should learn to let go and never interfere. But older parents and their adult children should still have a relationship – still be “family”. And ever so often, we find a bewildered parent whose adult child has completely cut him off for no apparent reason.
Perhaps God had these very parents in mind when the command to honor ones’ parents was given as one of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20. In my travels I have met two or three older people who have adult children who have not spoken to them in years. When these parents start to communicate, they share their confusion, desperation and sorrow. They all love their adult child and long to hear from them.. They miss the relationship that they used to have and have mixed feelings of sadness, love and anger. What did they do wrong as a parent? They ask. How could this special family relationship be torn in pieces? They wonder.
Another Parent – God, our heavenly Father has had some of these same feelings when some of His children have rejected Him. His anguish and mixed emotions of love and anger come spilling out in Hosea 11:1-9: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms: but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with the cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them… My people are determined to turn from me. Even if they call to the Most High, He will by no means exalt them. How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor devastate Ephraim again.”
When we read the history books we discover that the ten tribes of Israel were punished for rejecting their Father God and scattered throughout the known world. This happened over 2,500 years ago and they are still to this day referred to as the lost tribes of Israel. Long assimilated into other nations and long gone we suppose! Lost forever?
But wait, there in the last chapter of Hosea God speaks again of His lost sons Israel and Ephraim! “I will be like the dew to Israel: He shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon,” Hosea 14:5 And “Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do anymore with idols?’ I have heard and observed him, I am like a green cypress tree; Your fruit is found in Me.” Hosea 14:8.
Scripture is saying the impossible – that Israel and Ephraim will be restored! Indeed can God bring back His wayward children, the lost tribes of Israel, after these many thousands of years? Wouldn’t that be impossible? But wait, is anything too big for God? God has always known how to save and redeem, so of course He can bring the ten tribes of Israel back!
The whole fourteen chapters of Hosea record the desperation of God, the rejected Parent, crying out for a relationship with His children. – Israel and Ephraim. His anger and frustration are written down there right along with his love and concern. But Scripture tells us that God loves all of His children. And that includes you and me. When we sin and turn from Him and forget that we are His children, He must have the same feelings about us that He had about wayward Israel and rebellions Ephraim.
And what can we learn from all of this? First of all, if we are treated very badly as an older parent we can remember that God, the perfect Parent, was also treated badly. We share in a small way Christ’s sufferings. If God can bring His rebellious son Israel back after thousands of years; He can bring our rejecting child back too, even if we have to wait a very long time to see our prayers answered. And we can learn from the book of Hosea to never play the part of the rebellious child. Let’s never break our heavenly Father’s heart. Let’s never be responsible for making Him our rejected Parent.