Watching others make mistakes…

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Female executive or businesswoman about to step on a banana skin

Psalm 119:84 How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? 85 The arrogant have dug pitfalls for me; they flout your law. 86 All your commandments are enduring; I am persecuted without cause; help me! 87 They have almost made an end of me on earth; but I have not forsaken your precepts.

The psalmist is in trouble. He’s maintaining his faithfulness to God, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. His godless enemies have the upper hand and the psalmist is powerless to do anything about it. The forces against him are too great, so he must wait upon the Lord. Two things strike me about this passag

  1. The psalmist highlights an age-old problem: devious people prosper while honest people suffer. Happens all the time, though things tend to right themselves eventually. Still, it’s hard to witness this injustice.
  2. Either the psalmist can’t – or won’t – take matters into his own hands to rectify the situation. He’s struggling, but remaining patient as he waits for the Lord to act.

Growing up I wasn’t taught to wait upon the Lord – or anyone else – to fix a problem. I was taught to DO SOMETHING. NOW. Like many of you, I have a predisposition toward action. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

However, there are times when my actions would only serve to make matters worse, not better. I’ve mentioned many times in this space that I have three children – two college-age young adults and one high schooler. Hands down, one of the hardest aspects of being a father to older children is letting them figure things out on their own rather than stepping in to intervene.

It’s very hard to watch a person you love make choices you’re pretty sure will end badly.

But, in many cases, this is precisely what we have to do as parents/supervisors/teachers. People can’t learn if they aren’t given the opportunity to make mistakes. I was recently discussing a particular issue with my wife Jana regarding one of our children who is headed down a path we’re pretty sure will not end well. Sensing my anxiety about this, my wife gave me good counsel. She said we’ll have to love our child through whatever consequences appear – but we will not intervene.

Yes, I married up.

Lord Jesus, give us grace to know when to act and when to wait for you to act. Amen.

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