42:14 “I have held My peace a long time,
I have been still and restrained Myself.
Now I will cry like a woman in labor,
I will pant and gasp at once.
15 I will lay waste the mountains and hills,
And dry up all their vegetation;
I will make the rivers coast lands,
And I will dry up the pools.
16 I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them.
I am a parent. I may not be very good at it but I love my children. I would die for them. What I can't do for them is make their choices. I can lead. I can guide. Every day I set an example whether it's good or bad it is inevitable.
Being a parent has opened my eyes to see God in new ways. He too is a parent. He too was willing to die for us. He too can't or at least won't make our choices for us. He loves us and love never takes away freedom. That leaves Him in a very vulnerable position. Because He let's us act freely we often use that freedom to make bad choices. Those bad choices cause consequences that do damage to ourselves and others. Who often gets the blame? He does. Bad parent. He should fix things.
Judah was a rebellious child. They were using their freedom to abuse, exploit, and oppress. Notice what God says about His role in those dark times:
“I have held My peace a long time,
I have been still and restrained Myself."
I'm not sure there is anything more difficult than parental restraint. You see the choices. You know the damage it will cause. You see the outcome down the line. Every fiber of every muscle wants to grab them and take them from those choices. It won't work. Restraint and control don't change the heart. If anything the rebellion deepens.
With great pain in his heart the father of the prodigal son cut the cheque. He didn't want to but he knew he had to. To ever truly have the heart of his son he must set him free.
Some day every single knee will bow and every tongue will confess. The most ardent atheists will admit they were just trying to run from Him. They knew the truth but suppressed it so they could use their freedom as they wished. They will admit He was right. They will admit their choices didn't bring peace or happiness. Religionists who spent their lives trying to manipulate and control others for personal gain will also confess. Those who looked pious and were well respected by most will admit that behind the scenes they were anything but respectable. Satan himself will bow. They won't do it because they are sorry and desire to change. They will bow because the sheer weight of the evidence that they spent a lifetime piling up against themselves will compel them to confess.
May we never live that moment. God is good. He (like we parents here only much more so) only wants happiness, peace, success, and good for His children. His (and our) guidance is not to bind or restrain. It is to protect and save us from the inevitable consequences of wrong choices.
He restrained. We called Him incompetent. He stepped up to rescue the oppressed and we called Him a genocidal tyrant. Some days parenting is an impossible task.
"Father teach me when to use restraint and when to intervene. Help me to parent in such a way that the hearts of my children turn to You because they want to."