“No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you.” Isaiah 62:4
Reading through the story of Hezekiah, my mind was immediately drawn to how heart broken his wife Hephzibah must have been. King Hezekiah was one of the most faithful and devoted kings of his time (2 Kings 18:5), but his son Manasseh was among the most evil and vile kings to ever reign. They raised their son right, but somehow he still turned out to be a morally reprehensible king.
As I sit here quarantined along with the rest of the world, I put myself in Hephzibah’s shoes as a mother. I do not have grown children yet, but I cannot fathom any of them going off the rails and becoming people I don’t recognize. It may happen, but Lord willing I will never experience the kind of pain associated with a child who goes against everything they were taught to become such a lost person.
I am sure Hephzibah beat herself up. I am sure she questioned everything she had ever done as a mother and begged God to show her where SHE went wrong, but this isn’t on her. The direction her son chose is not her fault. Hephzibah means, “My delight is in her.” God was pleased with her.
I have friends who struggle with rejection from their grown children, and I can hear the pain in their voices when they talk about just wanting one more hug from their baby. They love their children more than anything in this world. These women grieve and mourn a child that is still alive, but dead in Christ.
The story of the prodigal child is one of my favorites (Luke 15:11-32). The prodigal son took his inheritance and ran as far away from his family and the church as he could go. He eventually came back, and his father welcomed him home with open arms. I think that is the model we need to follow. To continue to love our kids when they stray (without enabling them), pray for them, and let them know they can always come home.
I was a prodigal child at one time. I remember hearing the pain in my mom’s voice and seeing the tears she would cry, but I didn’t care. At that point in my life, I just rolled my eyes at her. Even still, she still loved me, helped me with my kids, and prayed as much as she possibly could. Eventually, I hit rock bottom and came home. There was immediate forgiveness and I realized that God (and my parents) were right where I had left them, waiting for me to come home.
I can’t say every parent will be able to welcome home their prodigal child, but Proverbs says to raise a child the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. If we raise our children right, if we continue to love them through their rebellion and continue to pray for them, odds are they will eventually come back. Hephzibah never got to experience the joy of having her child turn away from the darkness, but as long as there is breath in our lungs, there should be hope in our hearts.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.” Psalm 103:8