Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Genesis 4:6-8
Parenting is my greatest challenge. I love my kids fiercely and I love to be their mom but I often struggle with feeling capable of meeting their needs. I admit that I frequently feel I am not measuring up to be the parent that I think I should be.
I think there is an idea floating around about parenting that if we do everything right then we are guaranteed to have children who turn out like perfect little peaches. Maybe this is why I get comfort from a story like Cain and Abel: they had the same parents who likely parented them in a similar way and one turned out to be righteous while the other turned out to be murderous. Then there’s the story of Joseph and his brothers - all the kids were raised by the same parents yet Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers because they were consumed by jealousy. There are many other examples throughout the Bible that lead me to believe that parenting is not a perfect formula of plugging in numbers to get a perfect outcome.
Yes, we should definitely try to become better parents, but we also need to check our pride at the door when our children do something worthy in the same way we should leave our shame behind when our children do something crazy. And, perhaps most importantly, we should check our judgment of other parents when their children struggle.
I so desperately want my children to grow up to love God, love others, and find joy and meaning in life. As much as I want to, I can’t control that. My children have their own lives, their own stories, and their own walk with God. I imagine that Adam and Eve also wanted the best for Cain and Abel. We can only guess how painful it must have felt for Adam and Eve to watch their children struggle.
God rejected Cain’s sacrifice and Cain was angry and downcast. But despite this failure, God was telling Cain that he could overcome this, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” We don’t know for certain why God rejected Cain’s offering and accepted Abel’s but we do know about Cain’s response. We often get caught up in all that life throws our way but it is our response to those things that matter most.
God questioned Cain with the purpose to bring him back into right relationship with Him, not to scold him. The consequences of Cain’s reaction to God was greater than the sin itself. Instead of responding to God in humility, he reacted in rage and anger toward his brother..
Yet even after Cain’s rebellion, we see that God did not completely abandon him. There were consequences to Cain’s behavior yet God continued to respond to Cain in love regardless of the choices that he made. I can learn something from this in my parenting: my job is to respond in love despite the choices that my children make. I am not responsible to create perfect adults; I am responsible to respond in love.
Is there a place in your life where you are reacting to others instead of focusing on and responding to God?
Cain was jealous of Abel and he believed that God loved Abel more than him. Can you identify ways that you have been jealous like Cain? Perhaps you are jealous of a person or you are jealous of the things they have. Spend time admitting your feelings to God and ask Him to help you believe that He has provided everything that you need and more.
Father God, thank you for loving us in the midst of our brokenness. Even from the beginning, we see the great need for You to intervene and for us to trust You. Yet from generation to generation, we sell rebelliousness and disaster. God, thank you for making a way for us to have peace through the sacrifice of Your Son. In Jesus name, Amen.
PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.