Our youngest son came to me yesterday with a difficult question. He was writing a paper for one of his college courses and wanted to know more of my family history. Why? Because the topic of his paper was depression. And unfortunately that doesn’t just run in my family, it gallops.
So I told him. I shared details of grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, moms, daughters. Of painful childhoods, despairing adults, and suicides. And we discovered something. You know the verses about the sins of the fathers? It had played out in the generations of my extended family. The consequences have trickled down, from one hurting person to the next, and the current generation can feel the pain and experience the despair of their forefathers.
” ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.’ ” ~ Exodus 34:6b-7
Does God cause the iniquity of the fathers to visit the children to the third and fourth generations? No. But He allows it. We do it to ourselves, and to our children, by rejecting God’s ways and continuing in the paths of sin and despair.
What does God reveal about Himself, about His very nature, in the above verses? He tells us of His mercy and grace, longsuffering (slowness to anger), abundant goodness and truth, mercy for thousands, forgiveness of all, and justice for the guilty (those who choose not to repent and turn to God).
My kiddos and I talked yesterday of breaking the chains, so that the pain might not be perpetuated on the children any longer. And how does this happen? With God’s mercy and grace, slowness to anger, abundant goodness and truth, mercy for thousands, forgiveness of all, justice for the guilty.
The only way to redeem the current generation is through Jesus, by allowing Him to break the cycle of sin and “woundedness”, by turning to the only One who loves us unconditionally, with a perfect and sacrificial and all-encompassing love.
When we come to God, by grace through faith in Jesus alone, He takes us and makes us whole. Through Jesus He preaches “good tidings to the poor”, heals “the brokenhearted”, proclaims “liberty to the captives”, and opens “the prison to those who are bound”, comforts and consoles “all who mourn”, gives “them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the plantings of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (from Isaiah 61:1-3).
Are you suffering from depression, or from “woundedness”? Do you have hurt and sin that has been passed down through your family? Turn to the only One who can bind up your wounds, heal your broken heart, give you liberty and freedom, turn your mourning into joy, replace your heavy heart with praise, and plant you firmly in Him. Trust in Jesus as your Saviour. Walk with Him daily. He will never leave or abandon you (Hebrews 13:5).
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” ~ Psalm 1:1-3
My heart’s desire is to break the chains of the sins of my fathers for the sake of my children and my children’s children. Am I perfect? No. Are my kiddos perfect? Nope. We all struggle with despair and sin and “woundedness” at times, and some more than others. But my hope is in the promises of God’s Word and in His grace ~ His unearned, undeserved mercy and love and forgiveness and kindness.
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days;” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20a
Choose life, for yourself and for your descendants. Choose God. Break the chains. Let grace and mercy and love and truth trickle down from you to future generations.