How many of you have connected the name Yahweh Nissi with your wayward son or daughter? I know I hadn’t.
I have a son and daughter who I love very much. My wife and I committed them to the Lord at an early age. They both made a profession of faith as well as a commitment to be baptized at a relatively early age. They eagerly attended church with us up thru college age, attending children’s church and then youth group. The spiritual road ahead looked promising but living the life of a twenty and now thirty- something somehow got in the way of a truly fruitful, committed Christian life. Church attendance and personal Bible reading dwindled while unbelieving friends replaced Christian ones. Jobs, houses, and children now occupy the days. At times, we now even wonder if their god is our God.
My wife and I continue to pray for our children. The truth is we have been doing this for years. However, if you were to look into our discouraged hearts we were experiencing a lack of faith that things might change which was fueled by disappointment.
Now let’s get back to that Yahweh Nissi connection. During my devotions this year I have been reading an excellent book called Praying the Names of God by Ann Spangler, published by Zondervan. Here is an excerpt from one of those devotionals:
The Lord my Banner (Yahweh Nissi)
Reflection: Isaiah 49:22-25
“Though you may be living for Christ, your children or children you care about may not be. You may have done your best to share your faith when they were young… reading the Bible, teaching them to pray, bringing them to church, and modeling the love of Christ. Yet they strayed, pulled away by a thousand enticements.
Year after year you pray, but little seems to happen. Things may have gotten worse. Sex, money, drugs, partying, illness, apathy… whatever it is, you know your loved ones will self-destruct if they do not find their way back to God. Perhaps you have become so discouraged by what you see that you have stopped praying.
Yet Scripture tells us that those who hope in God will not be disappointed. Notice that it doesn’t say those who hope in God usually won’t be disappointed. It flat out says they will not be disappointed. That means that ultimately you won’t be disappointed in God’s faithfulness even if your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or neighbors are failing in school or living on the streets or engaged in illicit relationships or drinking themselves to death or working so hard they have no time for God. You may agonize over their choices and their circumstances, but you can’t afford to let that agony push you into premature conclusions about where they will end up. The whole story has yet to be written, and it can still be influenced by your hope and by your prayers. Disappointment is nothing but a premature conclusion, causing you to stop reading before the story’s end, making you abandon your hope in God, and enfeebling your ability to pray. While it is true that human beings are ultimately free to accept or reject God, your prayers may help to create a greater opening for grace to work.
Instead of giving up, pray that Yahweh Nissi will unfurl his banner for all to see, rescuing these children from whatever captivates them. Join with other prayerful people – parents, teachers, aunts and uncles, grandparents and neighbors – to remind God of his promise to contend with those who contend with you – to save the children you love and to bring them home again.”
If you are struggling with disappointment over the spiritual direction of your dear ones, I hope Isaiah 49:22-25 will be an encouragement for you as it was for me. My prayer for you is this Scripture from Isaiah will arouse your fighting spirit on behalf of your children. That you will praise Him for His power to save the children in your life!