I have a teacher friend who has been plagued all year by a parent who will not let his kid fail. I don’t say that in a good way, either. I mean that the man sends lengthy e-mails questioning every grade, continuously referencing his son’s attention deficit disorder, making excuses, and insisting his son be allowed to turn in every assignment late (ones which he usually does for him, as they return with different handwriting from the student’s).
Of course earthly fathers want their children to succeed. It’s completely natural and an attribute of a father’s love for his son or daughter. But a good father also allows his child to fail.
Our heavenly father wants us to succeed even more than our earthly father, but there are times when He lets us fall flat on our face (especially if we’re doing something outside of His will for us). He knows it’s for own good. When we fail, we learn, grow, and transform.
God allowed horrible things to happen to faithful Job (Job 1:12), and Jonah was left to reap the whirlwind of his rebellious decisions (Jonah 1:3). Moses struggled continually with his charge, the Israelites, who gave him nothing but trouble in the desert, and then he was not allowed to enter the promised land due to God’s displeasure with his actions (Numbers 1:12).
Perhaps the best illustration of God’s love and His willingness to discipline us is The Prodigal Son story (Luke 15:11-32). A father, willing to let his selfish, rebellious son fail in the cold, hard world, is overjoyed when the boy returns, humbled and repentant. Without allowing him that sense of failure and defeat, the son’s character would not have changed, and he would never have returned to realize how much his father loved When I was growing up, many of the stories my own father told me were ones of his failure. Often they were funny and sometimes they weren’t, but they always came with a lesson learned at the end of them. My dad also had to make the hard decision to let one of his daughters go her own way out into the world, not knowing what would happen to her. It was one of the hardest things he ever had to do. But at the end of her season of rebellion, she transformed and returned (she now says it was the best thing my dad ever did for her).
Hebrews 12:5-7 tells us,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children.
For what children are not disciplined by their father?”
If the Lord God allows His children to fail and suffer, shouldn’t we allow that of our own children?”
Megan Whitson Lee is passionate about tough, relevant topics that leave room for the redemptive power of God. Her self-published novel, Captives, was the winner of the 2016 Blue Ridge Mountain Writers Conference Director’s Choice Award and a Selah Award finalist. Her most recent women’s contemporary novel, Suburban Dangers, has been contracted by Pelican Book Group. Currently, she is an editor for Pelican and teaches high school English in Virginia where she lives with her husband and two greyhounds.