This article was written by Roy Diestelkamp and appeared in the winter 1997 issue of a paper called "Think On These Things," which is edited and published by Al Diestelkamp.
Recently, my wife and I had to face just such a situation when our son, Jeremy, began to complain of significant pain and, upon examination by the doctor, was sent for surgery to remove his appendix. We were not in control of the situation. We could not bear the pain for our son, nor could we remove the offending appendix or suffer through the surgery for him. Thankfully, we could pray for God's help (and He was gracious), but personally, it was a circumstance about which we could do nothing.
There are some lessons from this situation that are good and valuable. When we consider the subject of sin, we have to admit that we do not have control over escaping its consequence. Scripture declares that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). Once you and I have sinned, we have no power, scheme, or money that can forgive a single sin. In fact, Jesus asked, "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mk. 8:37). Wish as we will, try as we might, we cannot by our own strength escape our sin, cover our sin, or forgive it. We are dependent on God to save us through His grace that He provided in Christ Jesus. In regard to forgiving sin, I am out of my own control and must accept that fact and humbly seek God's mercy. In a different way, I may allow things to get out of control when I am supposed to be in control. Parents have responsibilities to God and to their children. In Ephesians 6:4, we read: "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." I have a responsibility to stay in control of my children and raise them up to know and fear God.
Now I may let my children get out of control. I may never correct or discipline them. I may not want to inhibit their free spirit by saying, and meaning, "No," to certain actions. I may not enforce my will upon them by discipline (whether spanking, withdrawal of privileges, or chastisement). Or, I may wait until the child is older to start trying to exercise control, but by then will find out the child has a mind of his own. The Word teaches us to "Chasten your son while there is hope" (Proverbs 19:18).
Parents are not to simply watch their children grow taller, play with neighbor children, go to school, involve themselves in sports, choose dates, pick a college or a vocation, and get married. Parents must watch, correct, discipline, and make sure that as children grow physically, they also grow spiritually, learn God's will, and witness it being lived in their own lives. Parents must help pick children's playmates and later direct them to make proper choices as to: 1) persons to date; 2) college to attend; and 3) whom to marry. The next generation must be taught to make good choices for each of these categories so that they can-and will-continue to serve God.
While we have control of our young, we as parents are to use that control. God has made man in such a way that parents being in control will work. The general rule of God is: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6). Moreover, He has placed in the child the nature to imitate the parent (Eph. 5:1). In today's world there is the calamity of juvenile delinquency, gangs, drugs, and crime. And even worse calamity exists among the churches where children of Christians do not themselves become or remain Christians. This must remind all parents to love and fear God ourselves, personally set the right example, teach right from wrong, and be actively involved in our children's lives.
If we are not in control of our children, who is? If we are not in control of our children, why not? If we are not now in control of our children, when will we be? The Lord's standard calls for "one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence" (1 Tim. 3:4). When a child is sick, we may not be able to control the situation. In our families, regarding our children, we must be in control. Let us fearfully pray to God for His help.