Raising Men

Boy on the top of hillIf I’d known then what I know now…  When I held those precious babes bundled in blue. When during the night watches I rocked them to the rhythm of my prayers. When I was their whole world and innocence was still their reality. If I’d known then…

I would have held them tighter.

Prayed harder.

Kept them from the world.

—-

This day, women’s whispers haunt me. I’ve never told anyone before, they begin. Faces stained with tears. Eyes hooded with shame. They pause. Swallow. Start again. I search my mind for wisdom, but find none. Instead, silent, I nod my encouragement. I hold their stories close. I understand.

We were bludgeoned.

Wounded.

By men.

Women betrayed by men who promised faithfulness. Women abandoned by men who promised steadfastness. Women belittled by men who promised respect. Women violated by men who promised protection. Husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles…

I cry out to God.

Where are Your men?

 Who will lead our sons?

 Where are the warriors?

 —-

He opens an album and points. Remember? He asks.

I see my grandfather, fly rod in hand—tender, faithful, sacrificial. Hero to my sons.

Yes, I remember, I say, as I smile through my tears.

And this one, He turns the page.

There’s my great-uncle, laughter in his eyes—fun, caring, strong. For a season, he made breakfast for me every morning. Yes, I recall.

Others come to mind—a coach, an agent, a father figure, a handyman, friends—James, Steve, Ted, Tony, Neil, Dave, Jim…

Imperfect men.

But good men.

Godly men.

But what of the others? I ask.

He shakes His head. Some are wounded. Others are weak. Many bow to other gods: money, lust, themselves. His tone is marked by grief.

—-

Her hair is gray, her features lined with age. Her countenance emanates peace—her words embody wisdom. “I am your wife. If you go to her, do not come back. This is what I said to him.”

I lean forward, “What happened?”

“He went to her. And when he came back, I spoke truth.” Quiet strength supports her words. “I told those who had spiritual authority over him and they met with him. They told him he must change his ways. But he refused.”

She looks beyond me to the trees swaying in the breeze. I wait. And wonder.

When she looks to me again, a tear has left a track on her cheek. “I live with my son and his family now. I am grateful. God has provided for me.”

“But…are you still married?”

“Yes, I am still his wife. But I filed the paperwork for a legal separation. I had to protect myself financially. I could not let him use all our money to court another woman.”

“You’re wise.”

“No, I am just old.” She shakes her head. “I will not divorce him. But I remain resolved because it is the most loving action.”

“What do you mean?”

Again, she stares beyond me and I wait. This time when she looks back to me, I see mercy in her eyes.

“He is hurting me, but he is also hurting himself. He is doing the most damage to his own soul. To love him is to tell him no.”

—-

They are young men now—no longer the babes I rocked to the rhythm of my prayers. They are good men too, I believe. Though like each of us, they were born with sin woven into their very nature. Our culture of hedonism woos and a dark, consuming world is just a mouse-click away. What I didn’t know then, I know now…

A lion crouches.

Snarling at my young men.

Ready to attack.

But the lion doesn’t lie in wait for just my men. He is after our men. And we—wives, mothers, sisters, aunts—must rock the lion with our prayers. Stoning him unto death.

To our men, we must speak truth. With quiet strength supporting our words. We must say, “No more.”

Because, to love him, is to tell him no.

 

To love him is to tell him no. Click To Tweet To our men, we must speak truth. Click To Tweet

 

The God of All Comfort

As I travel and engage with readers, many open their lives to me and share their heartaches. In the last week I’ve heard stories of a husband’s unfaithfulness, a son’s death by homicide, a daughter’s rape. I’ve heard stories of childhood sexual abuse and a wife’s physical and emotional abuse. Many of these dear wounded warriors also share their journey of healing. They share the hope they’ve found in Jesus Christ.

But I confess, these stories often weigh on me and I want to shake my fist at God and tell Him He should prevent suffering. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I don’t understand why God allows Satan to rule as the prince of earth. I don’t understand why God allows heartache.

However, I do understand this: I don’t want to serve a simplistic God who is easily understood. If God isn’t bigger than my understanding, then He isn’t much good, is He?

I face a conundrum. Maybe you’ve faced it too. Either I rely on my own understanding or I place my faith in a God I’ll never understand.

So I walk in faith, awed, and sometimes addled, by a mysterious God. And as I watch, and wait on Him, I see something else taking place in the midst of the suffering. I see comfort. His comfort. Offered to those who suffer from those who’ve suffered.

I see a beautiful dance—a pairing of souls drawn together by mutual pain. I see purpose assigned to their pain as they offer comfort one to another. I’ve received that comfort myself, and I’ve offered it to others.

The embrace of God.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 1 Corinthians 1:3-4

His mysteries are as unfathomable as His love.

Are you walking in faith and in need of comfort? Or are you reaching out and offering comfort to another?

 

 

 

 

 

More Than We Can Bear

Have you ever felt like God’s given you more than you can bear? I have. During dark days as I trekked through memories of childhood sexual abuse, I cried out to God. “It’s too much!” After major back surgery when muscle spasms sent excruciating pain throughout my body over and over again, the suffering was more than I could withstand. Or when my 28-year marriage crumbled and died. Oh Lord, I sobbed, I won’t survive this.

But I’ve heard many Christians say, “God never gives us more than we can bear.” They mean well, but that claim and reality don’t seem to match up.

Hasn’t the groom whose bride was killed on their honeymoon experienced grief beyond bearing? Or the mother of the bride who will never see her daughter’s smile again? Isn’t that pain too much?

And what about Christ?

They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head

again and again. After they had mocked him…they led him away

to crucify him (Matthew 26:30-31).

Christ suffered unto death.

So what’s the truth? The claim that God never gives us more than we can bear comes from a verse often misquoted:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And

God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can

bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so

that you can stand up under it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

I find comfort in that verse. It assures me I’m not the wimp I was tempted to believe I am. The truth is that God won’t allow us to experience temptation beyond what we can bear. Suffering is a different story.

When we’re tempted to comfort ourselves through the grief of losing a loved one by escaping from our pain through destructive measures, God offers us the Comforter, His Spirit, who walks us through the valley of the shadow of death. When we’re tempted to believe, based on circumstances, that God doesn’t love us, He reminds us of His beloved Son, who He sent to die for us.

Scripture warns us—even promises us—that we’ll bear tribulation here on earth. But as James reminds us, our time here is but a vapor. It is just the beginning. For reasons I don’t understand, God allows the prince of darkness to rule on earth. He allows suffering.

I must chose, in faith, to believe there is something more—that as I share in the sufferings of Christ, someday soon, I will meet Jesus face to face. I will know Him by the scars He bears. I will live for eternity in the light of the Father’s love—a Father who sacrificed His own son–who walked through the pain of death—for me. And for you. So that He might save us for eternity.

Have you experienced more than you can bear?

Are you tempted to turn your back on the One who allows your suffering?

Or are you holding fast to the hope of eternity?

As we share with one another and build a community through this blog, I pray we will offer one another the love, encouragement, and gracious embrace of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

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