If we’re honest, most if not all parents have been there at some stage. Now, admittedly, sometimes that disconnect isn’t the younger ones’ fault. That parental frustration has more to do with our internal brokenness; something about them somehow manages to bring it to the surface.
But there are seasons and situations where that disappointment falls squarely in the lap of the children. They have done, or not done, something that leaves you scratching your head, pulling your hair out, or rending your garments in biblical despair.
At such times, it’s easy to garnish the bitter taste of dismay with a dollop of guilt. After all, our internal critic tells us, they may have done something wrong, but if we were halfway better parents, we wouldn’t be feeling like we do now. We’d still be loving, but firm—just like God is with us.
But hang on a minute. Yes, God’s loving mercy toward us never fails, but it doesn’t mean He is always looking down on us doe-eyed. Remember it was God’s great love for His chosen people that prompted the miracles He performed to spring them from slavery in Egypt.
However, when they failed to enter the Promised Land because they were fearful of the giants there, God decided that none of that generation—save Joshua and Caleb, the two men who had believed He could give the Israelites victory—would set foot there.
That led to their 40-year wanderings around the wilderness, while they all passed away. And what was God’s demeanor toward them all during this time? Well, “he put up with them,” according to Paul’s history as recounted in Acts 13:18. That’s the English Standard Version; other translations put it that he “endured their conduct” (NIV), “suffered their manners” (KJV), or “put up with their ways” (NKJV).
God still acted lovingly toward the Israelites throughout their time out in the desert, making sure their needs were met and watching over them, but He wasn’t all gooey-eyed about them. It’s not only human to be put out when your children fail to walk in the ways you have shown them. Depending on how well you continue to act toward them in the face of their failure, it can also be sort of godly.