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Ask Jani: “When Children Deny the Faith”

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Episode Synopsis

There are no guarantees that all children raised in Christian homes will follow the Lord. Where can we turn for strength and endurance as we pray and wait?

Audio Transcript

Heidi: Hello, everyone. Welcome to our podcast today. We’ve been going through our “Ask Jani” questions that you’ve so faithfully submitted and I’m excited, Jani, to have another question today. And this is a reminder for our listeners that if you have a question for Jani, or for Jani and Ray, or for her and I, please feel free to submit those at our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

Our Question for Today

Heidi: So Jani, here’s our question today.

Jani, I have several friends who faithfully reared their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, pouring themselves into intentional parenting. Yet in young adulthood, their kids have either drifted or run away from their faith. Dear seminary friends of ours homeschooled to their five sons on the mission field in Asia, adopting a sixth as well. They are among the most prayerful, intentional parents I’ve known. Yet today they are broken people, as two of their sons have come out as gay and one is transgender. They have not rejected their adult kids but their kids have refused contact with them unless they will affirm their unbiblical lifestyle. My heart breaks for my friend and others, many of whom have also have invested their lives in kingdom work yet are watching their own beloved children reject the Lord or compromise on truth.

I’m wondering if you might address those women in your audience who fall into this category. My own five children are surely still in progress at different stages in their walks with the Lord. I personally believe that children of pastors and missionaries navigate a unique set of challenges, even when their parents try hard to protect them from feeling undue pressures. We all began our motherhood journey with such high hopes and prayers for our precious little ones and sometimes things later look very different from the picture we had in mind. But I know there is balm for mothers who are still waiting, as their children are in the far-off country.”

Jani: Oh, Heidi. Doesn’t that just bring tears to your eyes?

Heidi: That’s a hard question.

Jani: Yes. Oh, there’s no ache like a mother’s heartache when her children are wandering. They’re estranged. They’re far off. Because a mother always wants her children—if they’re not near physically, geographically—at least to be near emotionally.

How Can We Respond?

Jani: So the first thing Heidi and I say is, we’re very, very sorry. What a deep heartache. We don’t take this question lightly. We take it very seriously. This truly is not something that can be answered quickly. But maybe Heidi and I could offer just one little nugget from God’s Word that could begin some thinking along a certain pathway.

Jani: I just recently, Heidi, actually got an email from a dear friend in Scotland, who loves the Lord and there’s been an estrangement between her husband and some of the children and it’s very hard for her. And yet she told me of a passage in Scripture that has helped her and I wonder if it might not be a help to our listeners, as well. It’s in Jeremiah 31, and my friend mentioned verses 15 through 17, of Jeremiah 31.

Jani: Let me just set the context here before I read these. The idea of the whole chapter is that God is going to turn our mourning into joy. Not our “morning”, m-o-r-n, but “mourn”, m-o-u-r—our grief, our sorrow, our tears into joy. He will eventually do that. That is his promise. That is the kind of God he is.

Jani: And in this chapter, it’s really, I think, the most famous chapter of Jeremiah (Chapter 31). He promises to make a new covenant with Israel where he talks about heart issues, how he’s going to write his law on our hearts. So in the middle of this chapter, he says this, in verses 15 through 17,

Thus says the Lord:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
    she refuses to be comforted for her children,
    because they are no more.”

Thus says the Lord:
“Keep your voice from weeping,
    and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work,
declares the Lord,
    and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
There is hope for your future,
declares the Lord,
    and your children shall come back to their own country.

Jeremiah 31:15-17

Jani: Oh, I love the phrases in here, Heidi. First of all, a voice is heard. God hears. We serve the God who hears. It may not seem like it when you’re praying for years over something, but God does indeed hear.

Jani: And he says, there is a reward for your work. We serve the God who remembers, he knows what you’re doing. He knows your efforts. He saw all those years that you gave to your children.

Jani: I love this, “they shall come back from the land of the enemy.” Now I don’t know what that means. I can’t tell you that this verse means that every child who has sexual confusion will come back from that land and find the Lord in wholehearted conversion and be totally changed. I can’t promise you that. But all I can say is, this is the kind of God we serve. Who does bring children back. Who does give you hope for your future.

Hope For A Mother’s Heart

Jani: So I would like rather than focusing on trying to get your children to change and come back, I’d rather focus on the momma’s heart, Heidi. I’d rather talk about hope for a mother’s heart. Because when you give up hope, then you funnel down into despair, and that will never help your family.

Jani: I love how the Bible talks about God being a God of hope. Heidi, I’ve heard you talk about hope before I know you’ve had to deal with it with your own battle, cancer and other ways. Could you speak to hope in a mama’s heart?

Heidi: Oh, I love that, Jani. It was more, it was a piece of wisdom that my counselor gave me many years ago. We were talking, you know, we all come from families that have trials and life is just hard sometimes. And you don’t, you pray for somebody and you hope that they come to salvation and then they don’t and it can be so discouraging and will this ever change? And my counselor looked at me one day and she said,

“Heidi, we will always cling to hope because in God there is always hope.”

And so no matter how awful things appear, no matter how many years you’ve been praying for this, we’re still going to cling to hope until our very last breath. And she just encouraged me to always have hope. And that stuck with me that we never need to despair. We never give up. Our God is a God of hope. And so we keep praying and we keep asking the Lord to help. And I praise God that he can put hope in our spirits.

Jani: Hmm. That’s so good, Heidi. I think of Romans 15:13, where God calls himself the “God of hope.” This was my father-in-law’s favorite verse, it says this,

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

Jani: He doesn’t want to just give us a little pinch of hope here and there. He wants to fill us—by the power of the Holy Spirit; it’s not on our own, it’s not some mind game we play. It’s through the God of hope through His Holy Spirit, that He gives us joy and peace, which lead to hope so that we’re abounding in hope. Wouldn’t that just be amazing? Oh, that’s the kind of God we serve, and that’s the kind of God who can restore your soul with hope. Let me pray for our listeners.

A Prayer to the God of Hope

Jani: “Oh, Father, we thank you for being the God of hope, who tell us to stop our weeping. Our children will come back from the land of the enemy. Lord, fill that mother’s heart with hope even now as she listens. And as she turns to you, Lord, give her the hope she needs to carry on to pray for her wandering child, to keep trusting you. And Lord by the power of your Holy Spirit, restore her soul with peace, with joy, so that she may abound in hope all the days of her life and will give you the glory. It’s in Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.”

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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About The Podcast

He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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