Stand at the Gate or Run and Rescue?

Proverbs 13:12 -
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.


This verse is a picture of what most family members feel when it comes to their loved ones. It’s interesting how in the following verses there is a substantial list of contrast.

These differences parallel the rewards of obeying the Word of God and then the following consequences to disobeying the Word.

This one verse really stuck out to me when I was re-reading this passage after hearing a preacher deliver a sermon from it.

“Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, But he who regards a rebuke will be honored.”

If your loved one is currently in rebellion, I know it can be hard to find this type of scripture comforting.

But it can certainly be a great learning tool to help us adjust our response to a challenging situation.It’s been my experience that when an addict typically makes a mess, most parents will jump right in and clean the mess up.


Is this always the right answer?
What are you solving by doing this?
What message are we sending by fixing every problem?


You might feel good momentarily by following the mama or papa bear instincts and fixing the problems. But what if the enemy that needs to be defeated is actually within the addict, and by shifting blame everywhere else and “protecting” your loved one you're only perpetuating the cycle of the user continuing to destroy themselves.


See the addict's problem is internal.

It’s the addict. It’s the behavior. It’s the lifestyle they have chosen to lead.

There is an enemy inside that needs to be defeated. By fixing every mistake your only aiding that enemy to continue to wage war.

There is a huge difference between providing emotional support to help them fix their issues and being the one that fixes it all the time. I am not at all suggesting you isolate or pull all emotional support.

But, we need to empower good choices and not enable bad behavior.

One decision encourages life change; the other reinforces the destructive pattern.

What if the poverty and shame is the vehicle that God has chosen to allow your loved one to see the error of their ways?

I can’t help but think how the prodigal son story might have been different if the Father leveraged all of his resources to go and find his son in the pig pen. It’s pretty evident that the Father was wealthy enough to do any and everything necessary to see that His son was taken care of.

He didn’t.

He stood at the gate and waited and waited and waited.

With a sick heart, late night, pleading with God to make way for his son to return home.

Then one day out of the poverty and shame the prodigal came to his senses and returned.

I want to encourage you to read that last paragraph again.

“Out of the poverty and shame, the prodigal came to his senses and returned.”

Rick Warren says “Until our pain exceeds our fear of change we rarely change.”

Pain is necessary, and no parent enjoys their child experiencing pain. But sometimes it’s a vehicle that your family member needs to ride in to come to their senses.

I can’t promise you that it’s going to be fixed tomorrow.

It will be hard and gut-wrenching.

There will be times when you step in to offer your assistance. Those efforts may be fruitful, and they may not.

There isn’t a one size fits all formula. But with God’s help you will find the discernment and wisdom as to when you should help and when you need to stand at the gate.

No matter which circumstance you face today, know that you are not alone. Your Heavenly Father is with you every step of the way.

Justin FranichComment