Sunday – August 17, 2014; Isaiah 56:1-5
56 Thus says the Lord:
Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come,
and my deliverance be revealed.
2 Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it fast,
who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and refrains from doing any evil.
3 Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and do not let the eunuch say, “I am just a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
5 I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.
So…according to today’s reading, if we just follow the rules, we’ll do just fine…right?
Riiiight…however, it does not always seem to work out that way, does it? Sometimes we work hard to do the next right thing…and still the right thing does not always happen, not for us, or for our children…sometimes it seems like no matter what we do, or how well we do it that things do not improve and instead we are only asked to do more, as we are faced with more challenges…which are sometimes due to trying to do what was right in the first place.
God does not promise us an easy ride in our lives…even if we are constantly striving to do the right thing…after all Jesus did the right thing over and over again, and his reward was to be executed on the cross. As single parents, we too have chosen to do the next right thing over and over again, as we have taken on the responsibility of raising our children ‘on our own’.
Of course many of us would respond that we had no choice but to become single parents…but we always had a choice, we could always have walked (or run away) from our responsibilities and left our kids with their other parent, relatives, or the authorities. It sounds cold, but many parents have done this the fact that we have not is something for us to feel good about; and why we have not become single parents for the accolades (good thing) we do need to remember to feel good about our choices…especially when we find ourselves traveling the often hard road of single parenting (as folks are not really lining up to congratulate us).
So, we may be asking ourselves, if we are doing the right thing by being single parent, often changing our priorities and ambitions to fit into our busy lives of responsibility…why is it often so hard? Why do we have to struggle financially, have so little time for ourselves, and have to manage so much stress…why doesn’t the right thing happen for us?
Well it will help if we remember that we did not choose to become single parents in order to seek a reward or special treatment from God or from others…we are single parents because it was the best choice for us to make, because we love our children so very much and want only the best for them; so we struggle along striving to do the best we can one day at a time, and no matter how hard we try or how well we do, we continue to make mistakes and are faced with more and more challenges…so where is our good news? Where is the deliverance promised in today’s reading?
The good news is that God’s promises are not empty! The good news is that we are delivered on a daily basis, as we are given the strength to keep moving forward one day at a time…to keep doing the next right thing despite all the frustrations, fears and challenges we are presented with. God’s grace shines on us through the scriptures, the presence of the Holy Spirit in our world, and most of all through the other people in our lives! The real grace is that God’s deliverance comes to us not only through those we love and who love us, but through professionals, and even strangers…as we can gain strength and wisdom from all those around us.
The gifts that we receive as single parents, are often not what we would expect or maybe even hope for: like financial security, plenty of free time, glamor, or even a good pat on the back; however, the rewards we do get are much more valuable than anything material or the praise of others…though it may take longer for us to recolonize/appreciate them! We are rewarded by a close bond with our children that we may not have had if we were not single parents. We are rewarded by bright days at the park, playing on swings, rainy days watching movies or making up stories with toys, the joy of watching them go off to school for the first time, teaching them to ride a bike, drive a car (which can also be scary) and most of all in sharing our children’s lives as they grow into adults and beyond…as our kids will always need us (whether they want to admit to it or not).
Our greatest gift is the love we share with our children, and the life-long connection that we will build with them. Our deliverance comes from God’s great love for us, and the hope that is given to us through Christ and all those who carry out his ministry here in our world!
Let us Pray:
God, thank you for delivering us from our worries, stress and fears…thank you for freeing us to be the best parents we can. Help us not to lose hope when faced with the challenges of being single parents, and give us the strength to continue to do the next right thing for our children. Let us be open to the advice and support of others, as we know that while we may be single parents, no child is ever raised alone. Help us not to focus only on the struggle, but to also appreciate all the gifts that we received by being single parents, and to realize that all we gain is so much more valuable that anything we have sacrificed for our children.