Daniel 9:1-19 (Part 2) – Having To Show Tough Love Is The Toughest Form of Love To Show

Posted: June 22, 2016 in Book of Daniel

Daniel 9:1-19 (Part 2)

Daniel’s Prayer for His People

In this day and age, tough love is not something that many of us are willing to display, particularly with our children. Too many times, we want to be our children’s best friend instead of their parent. We want to be the cool parent that the kids want us to be. We want to be that popular parent where you children’s friends think we are the coolest thing ever. We would rather our children be spoiled with toys and with little discipline rather have to do the hard work of molding them into responsible human beings. This issue is one that is of great concern to me for a couple of reasons. I am going through a tough time with my youngest adult child of my two adult children and within the next four weeks, I will become a grandparent for the first time as my oldest child and her husband are about to have their first child together. With youngest adult child maybe I am paying for spoiling her over the past years. With my grandchild, I know it is a grandparent’s special relationship with their grandchild that often involves spoiling and eating dessert first and having chocolate before bedtime and all that stuff. I want to be a good parent and a good grandparent. Sometimes, we have to show our children and grandchildren tough love. We must enforce discipline when it is necessary. We must make them mature into productive adults. Sure, there is time for playfulness and a time for just showering them with love, but there are also times where we have to be tough.

 

With my children, after my divorce from their mother, and subsequent marriage to my second wife, I felt (right or wrong) because of the jealousies that existed in my new marriage with her kids vs. my kids that I had to do only what was necessary for my kids. During my second marriage, I put a great emotional distance between me and my blood children just to keep the peace in my new household. It almost destroyed my relationship with my kids. Ultimately, having to make choices about supporting my own children above and beyond the required child support was one of the main factors in the demise of my second marriage. After the second marriage ended, I went overboard in the other direction. I showered my kids, particularly my youngest, with whatever they wanted. She was still a young teenager and she was the type that as long as you do something for her, she was the type to continue letting you or expecting you to do things for her. The fact that I (and her mother who passed away 11 months ago) spent so much time after my second divorce giving her exactly what she wanted and not expecting or demanding any growth out of her, I now find myself with a 25 year old daughter who has only worked three meaningful years of work in her life so far. She is currently not working, living in the home she inherited from her mom, and has no desire to get her education or, as it appears, a meaningful job. Over the past year, I have been doing my best to force her toward maturity through cutting off various forms of support that I had still been giving her. The relationship has been testy to say the least over the past year. It is to the point that she is not speaking to me or having anything to do with me. Lord knows, I have made many mistakes with my kids over the years, but I am trying to correct that through find that balance. Right now, to get back to balance between the extremes that have marked the relationship in the past, tough love is required. This stretch with my youngest has been the hardest thing I have ever done. It would have been easier I guess if there had been balance throughout the relationship. But that can’t be changed and here we are with the tough love sequence.

 

Knowing the tough time that I had growing up as a parent and doing the right thing by them at the right times. Showing tough love when needed. I wonder how I am going to do as a grandparent. As a grandparent, we fulfill a role often as the relief valve for the parenting of children by the parents. We often are the comic relief. We are the spoilers. We are the unconditional accepters. There are so many clichés about grandparenting that are so easy to fall into. Will I be a grandparent that is willing to tell my granddaughter the truth about her behavior as she grows up in addition to being that necessary goofy granddad that she will love and adore. Will I be able to show her the errors of her ways when it is required. Will I be willing to tell her what she needs to hear rather than what she wants to hear. Sure, I KNOW I am going to spoil her and I should, as her grandparent. That’s part of the deal. However, I want to be the grandparent that is willing to teach her life lessons in a way that sometimes a parent can’t. I guess this whole time period with my adult youngest child is a reminder to me that in my role as grandparent it will not always be about going to Disney World and gifts and presents. There will be times that I will need to stand firm with my granddaughter to force her to mature at the right pace and not wait until she is 25 to start doing that.

 

That job of parenting (and grandparenting) is what I thought of this morning as I re-read Daniel 9:1-19 for the second time. Daniel’s understanding of the exile of Israel is spot on. It was the result of their disobedience to God. Had they simply obeyed the Lord and kept His commands, they would not be experiencing his tough love at this time. The exile to Babylon was God’s tough love for the sin and disobedience of His Chosen Children, Israel. Let’s read through it together here again today with a special eye toward Daniel’s commentary on the disobedience of Israel:

 

9 In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes[a] (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian[b] kingdom— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

 

4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

 

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

 

7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

 

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

 

15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

 

17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

 

Here in this passage, the captives of Judah had rebelled against God. Their sin had led to their captivity. God had sent many prophets to speak to His people through the years but they would not listen. Their messages were ignored. They were warned that if they continued in their disobedience that they would come to a bad end. The people of Israel thought that they knew better than God. They thought that they could do better going their own way. God was the parent here knowing that destruction would come from their self-indulgence. He knew that He gave them their boundaries of life not because He was trying to restrict their freedom but rather to keep them from destroying themselves. However, as impetuous kids, Israel did not take too well to the boundaries laid down by God. Thus, God allowed circumstances to swallow up Israel. Their self-indulgence became weakness and they became a conquered people enslaved. God could change all that in an instant if He wanted to, but He allowed it to happen to teach Israel a lesson in maturity.

 

Sometimes, God does the same thing with us. He speaks to us through the Bible, through a preacher’s sermon, through teachers, through life circumstances, through concerned friends. Sometimes, we need to hear the truth even if it hurts. God’s Word convicts us. A preacher’s sermon may sear straight into our hearts. Teachers may show us the error of our ways. Life circumstances often teach us what we need to know. Sometimes, concerned friends tells that we are full of it when we need to hear it. Tough love is sometimes part of God’s plan to get us to grow up as Christ followers. Tough love is sometimes too how God gets us to the cross in the first place.

 

In His tough love, though, there is always mercy. When we admit our mistakes and confess our sins and turn away from them, God is there with open arms. He only wants the best for us. He doesn’t show us tough love because He randomly wants to be mean to us. He just wants us to move away from sin and move back to Him. He is a good Father who just wants us to blossom into what He intended for us all along. It is no different for us as parents or grandparents. We may be required from time to time to show our children tough love. We don’t do it to be randomly and capriciously mean to them. We simply want them to avoid the pitfalls that we know are ahead of them. We simply want them not to miss their potential by wallowing in the path of least resistance. We show tough love to our kids and grandkids so that they will grow up and grow into to responsible, productive adults who have not boxed themselves into a certain lifestyle by the choices that they make right now. God was doing the same with Israel. He does the same thing with each one of us over the course of our existence here on this side of heaven. Sometimes we need tough love. Sometimes, after that we need His mercy and open arms. Just as any parent would welcome their child back into their arms with unconditional love and mercy after a period of tough love.

 

Amen and Amen.

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