A gracEmail subscriber has a married child in her 20’s who is struggling in her faith. She and her husband rarely attend public worship and do not consistently manifest a Christian lifestyle, yet they agonize over these facts and express their wishes that things were different. The father asks how he can help them see that God loves them and desires to forgive them and to be their friend.
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Your concern is shared worldwide by believing parents in the same situation. When our children were growing up, we attempted to pass on the faith to them by age-appropriate verbal teaching and especially by our own imperfect examples. However, if their faith is to be life-long and life-sustaining, at some point our children must internalize, transform and personally own what they received by teaching (which was really our faith) so that it becomes authentically their own. We see this progression, for example, in the life of Timothy (2 Tim. 3:14-15; 2 Tim 1:5). Your description of your daughter and her husband leads me to believe that they are caught up in that necessary process, but that they are unaware of what is happening and so are not participating intentionally in the process.
I am encouraged to hear that your daughter struggles with her situation, wishes that she felt closer to God, and talks openly to you and her mother about her wavering faith. These all signify the presence of spiritual life — life from above which results from God’s intervention by the Holy Spirit, apart from which we are spiritually “dead” toward God (John 3:6-8; Eph. 2:1-9). Our own religious heritage did not emphasize the supernatural aspect of this new birth (which we call regeneration), but Jesus did, as well as his first followers. We may be very thankful for that, since it is a wellspring of great hope and encouragement. What God starts, he will complete (Phil. 1:6).
In that confidence, we may pray frequently for those whom we love (Phil. 1:8-11; 1 Thes. 5:23-24). We may also watch for opportunities to express our love, to encourage (without “preaching”), careful always to model — as best we are able with God’s help — a life dependent on God in all things and dedicated to his service and glory.