One Friday night, some time ago, a man stood in front of his 8-year old son and cried because he knew he wasn't spending enough time with him. The man and his wife had divorced 2 years earlier and, like many divorced fathers, the man had to work long hours. This father apologized to his son, tears rolling down his face.
But then he did something that confused the little boy. The man told his son that there would come a day in the future when the boy would need his father, and on that day the father promised his son that he would be there for him, and that the boy would come and live with him.
Four years from that point, that day arrived. A difficult situation came up in the boy’s life and the little boy needed his daddy. His daddy was true to his word and kept his promise. There’s no way he could’ve known how his promise would even need to be fulfilled but he was confident that the things he was going through at that point would pay off in some way, in the long run. It’s a fascinating story, if you think about it.
The wrinkle in this story is that I was the little boy. I still remember that night. We'd just finished watching "The Dukes of Hazzard" and went into the garage to shoot basketball (the garage was big enough that there was a backboard and rim mounted on the wall). We were sitting together after we'd shot for about thirty minutes or so.
Parents, you might not ever be in the position that my father was back then, having to apologize for not being around because of the pain of divorce, or having to promise things that aren’t exactly within your power to fulfill. In fact, it’s my prayer for everyone reading these words that they don’t have to ever experience that pain but if they are that your pain would be as limited as possible.
However, if you do have this pain in your life, past or present, there’s something that you need to grasp in order to process what it is you’re going through now. Actually, there are a few things. First, you aren’t alone in this. Sadly, many of us have that dysfunction in our lives. Now, I don’t write that to tell you to suck it up and deal with it. No, I’m telling you that to lead to this: you don’t have to suffer through this on your own. Reach out to someone, talk to them, please. Don’t try to bear the burden of your pain on your own because most of us wind up with further pains later on in life.
Second, know that the things you’re going through now are things that you’re dealing with to prepare you for something big in the future. I don’t mean this the way some high school graduation speaker would (“Oh, you’re being prepared for greatness! You’re destined for grand things!”). No, I mean that your life experiences are putting you in a position to help someone, bear a burden alongside someone, or to be an encouragement to someone. Simply put, you’re going through an education process so that you can teach with your life’s experience.
Sometimes when I am baffled by God's sovereignty, how He orders our lives and governs the actions of people, I think of a seemingly random promise made by a father to his son and I know that there is no random with God. Also, while a biological father's word may be solid it pales in comparison to the Word of our Heavenly Father, and that sometimes His plans, while strange, are ultimately providing us with an ability to empathize and sympathize with the people in our lives.