The cause for much grief in a parents’ life is their children’s choice to reject the God of the covenant. For children to depart from the faith in order to meander in the cesspool of temporary worldly pleasures not only pains the godly parent, it is a sign that they may not be in fact part of the covenant family.
Perhaps you have a son or daughter that has hardened their heart; confused and captivated by their passions such that they can’t see the difference between right and wrong. Things may seem bleak, but there’s hope while they are alive and pray that parent must.
While King Jehoshaphat loved the LORD his son Ahaziah did not with a little help from his mother Athaliah (Vv.2-4). He did evil in the sight of the LORD by forsaking Him which never ends well for finite creatures. In fact the text says that the destruction which awaited this young man was from God:
“7 Now the destruction of Ahaziah was from God, in that he went to Joram. For when he came, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the Lord had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab.”
The house of Ahab, if you recall, forsook the ways of the LORD and turned Israel away to worship false gods—which is idolatry. Here, Holy Scripture reveals that God was personally putting an end to the king’s life and to the house of Ahab. The straying of Ahab away from the LORD did not happen overnight but gradually.
Often we find ourselves gradually straying away from the LORD but don’t notice it until we find ourselves in “the badlands” and the hunger to know and follow God is nowhere to be found. The reason is because we have chosen to worship false gods by listening to false prophets that eventually leads to our eternal demise and damnation.
There are warnings in Scripture to guard against an unbelieving heart causing us to fall away from the living God. The general principle in proverbs to “train a child in the way they should go and in the end they will not depart from it” is just that, general. It does not guarantee a child won’t be forever lost. And the ad hoc situation in the book of Acts where the jailer asks Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” and the apostle responds, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16) is just that, ad hoc, not a promise that because we are saved our progeny will be.
So what do we do? While our children are alive: we need the LORD’s strength to walk in his ways; to trust in His truth, and to make our intercession on behalf of our straying sons and daughters to return home (i.e., to be in a right relationship with God). May our children not perish but declare the mighty deeds of Yahweh. May they understand what it means to walk in the fear of the LORD and adore Him, and may they be salt and light to those who previously were leading them astray.