In 1994, Susan Smith, a young mother in North Carolina, was indicted for deliberately pushing her car into a lake and watching her two small boys drown as they were strapped in their car seats. The nation watched in horror as this nightmare unfolded on television. Many of the citizens of North Carolina wanted this mother to receive swift justice. Some said they wanted to take vengeance into their own hands, which, of course, wasn't their right.
Some seem to believe that children - even very young children - don't deserve love and protection, that it will somehow warp their minds if they are pampered too much. Now, children need proper discipline. In fact, the disciple God has in mind for children is inspired by love. Their mistreatment is never "proper."
God is grieved at the abuse of children - all children. No one has ever loved children more than the Heavenly Father does. When children find themselves in distress, they can be sure that God's heart goes out to them.
In his wisdom, the Lord has lovingly provided for children to have responsible, devoted parents to care for them. Children are a gift from God to parents. Likewise, parents are an expression of his love and concern for children.
The very essence of an acceptable relationship with the Father is characterized in part by concern for children. Especially is this true of children already affected by life's unfortunate circumstances. "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27).
When adults demonstrate a lack of care and concern in their relationship with children, it is nothing less than a violation of God's will. God loves the Susan Smiths of the world, in spite of their selfishness and sins against the children he has given them. But the fact remains that abusive mothers and fathers, regardless of whether they see it or admit it, act in direct opposition to God's concern.
Reminders of God's will for our lives often come in unexpected ways. Every Christian parent should be concerned about the care they are providing for the kids with which God has entrusted them. Every mother and father should understand that God wants them to provide both physical and spiritual nurturing for the boys and girls who live in their homes.
I suppose it should go with saying that society in general also bears responsibility for the protection and care of children. However, it begins in the home.
We have our children for a such brief time. God help us to use that time wisely.