Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hebrews 4:15-16

(Van Houser)
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Some years ago I was working with a community in New Jersey from which two young people had made the horrible decision to hide a pregnancy out of fear of being shamed.  The result was the tragic death of a baby and the marring of not only a young man and young woman’s lives but the dreams and futures of their families and friends.  I was asked to interview students and families and to observe the culture of this affluent community where something like this should never have happened. 
I’ll never forget those interviews.  The children of the community were bright and gifted.  There was nothing they did not have at their disposal to assist them to succeed.  Money was no object although it was a symbol of success.  Many parents both worked and were away from their children throughout the week leaving them a credit card to cover their basic needs and desires.  Social opportunities and highly accredited schools were status symbols for the community as well.
But in all of the interviews there was an underlying problem.  I saw it in almost every child I spoke with.  Visiting with the parents, it was evident in their lives as well.  On the evening of a community meeting to discuss the issues the auditorium was packed. 
As I discussed the strengths of their community, you could see the pride on the faces of the parents.  And then I shared what I had seen; not only in their children but in them.  It was a disproportionate fear of failure.  While everyone has some sense of fear of failing, this was almost phobic.  What was the cause of the death of the baby?  Fear of being shamed; fear of being seen as failures.  It was so great they would rather murder than be found out.
I braced myself and shared that the greatest problem in their community was that the children did not know how to fail nor did it seem that the parents were able to handle failure either.  I’ll never forget the response as I taught about the great lessons we can only learn from failure;  lessons about ourselves, others, recovery, God and life.  As I talked, I began to hear weeping across the auditorium.  It was evident to me that the reality of their weakness had struck home.
There are some lessons we must teach our children for them to survive as well as succeed and one of the most important is how to fail.  We model this lesson with our own reactions and responses to our failures.  Getting defensive, lying, getting angry, quitting or blaming are not good models.  How we handle the failures of our children is also important.  Labeling, name-calling, angry outbursts, control are all damaging when the needs are acceptance understanding and ways to avoid it happening again.
The passage from Hebrews is so important to me.  For it states clearly that Jesus is not among those who start their condemnation of my failure with, “How could you do such a thing!”  He knows my weakness and wants to help.  Shouldn’t we do the same for each other?

Scripture to Claim: Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

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