Personal Growth

Lessons From a Desperate Dad

by John Dalrymple

Man sitting and holding his head in his hands

One day, a man came running up to Jesus, knelt before Him, and begged Him to have mercy on his son, an only child. He explained that his son had suffered terribly since childhood through seizures brought on by an unclean spirit. Many times, the spirit had thrown the boy into the fire and water to destroy him. The dad continued by explaining that Jesus’ disciples tried but were unable to heal the boy.

At this point, the boy was brought to Jesus and had a seizure right there in front of Him. The dad turned to Jesus and implored, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus responded, “If I can do anything? All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately, the dad cried out with the ironic statement, “I believe! Help my unbelief” and Jesus responded with compassion by rebuking the demon and delivering the boy from his suffering (Lk 9:37–42; Mt 17:14–19; and Mk 9:14–28).

While most of us probably don’t have a child with a demon (though some of us may question that at times), make no mistake, dads, we are on a spiritual battlefield. Satan is out to destroy our kids. We do our best to help our kids battle their sin struggles, but sometimes the situation can seem desperate and we are at our wit’s end as a parent.

This hope-filled story from the gospels gives three simple encouragements for desperate dads.

1. We are not smart enough or strong enough to rescue our kids

This may not seem very encouraging at first, but it is freeing to realize that we weren’t meant to be our kid’s Savior. When I was 10 years old, my dad dove into a lake and rescued me from drowning in the middle of a storm. However, in the process, he also came close to drowning and we had to both be rescued by boat. Kids tend to think of their dad as superheroes, but we must realize that we can’t save our kids from their sin struggles. We can shepherd their hearts, but we can’t change their hearts. That brings us to the second observation…

2. Our only real solution is to bring our kids to Jesus

I’m sure the dad in our story had tried everything available for his son’s deliverance. But at the end of the day, his son just needed to get to Jesus. So, bring your kids to Him.

  • Bring them to Jesus in prayer. My wife and I have frequent conversations about our kids and their sin struggles but our most important conversations are those that are directed towards God in prayerful dependence. We need to do this together as a couple and also individually with each of our kids.

  • Bring them to Jesus in prayer. This takes place in a group setting during family devotions and through one-on-one discipleship conversations such as on a date with dad. It can also be very effective during times of discipline after they have sinned. Use the truth from God’s Word to show them what God has to say about their sin and how Jesus is the solution.

  • Bring them to Jesus and His body. Surround your kids with a godly church family since it is God’s plan to use the church body to build up each individual to be more like Jesus (Eph. 4:12–13). My children will greatly benefit from hearing the truth of God’s Word about their sin struggles from other godly Christians who are committed to helping them grow and mature in Christ.

Whatever we do, we must bring our kids to Jesus. Why?

3. All things are possible with Him

There is no son too wayward, there is no daughter too distant, there is no child beyond the reach of Jesus’ power to rescue. If you have become disheartened and even doubtful about Jesus’ ability to help your child, adopt the words of the desperate dad in our story, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”

  • Jesus can help your child with lying, for He is the truth (Jn. 14:6).
  • He can help your child overcome fear, for He calmed the storms (Mk. 4:35–41).
  • He can help your child through grief, for He defeated death (Rev. 1:18).
  • He can help your child through guilt, for He is our righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30).
  • He can help your child through conflict, for He is the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).
  • He can help your child through danger, for He is the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11).

From Desperation to Dependence

A few weeks ago, I was correcting one of my sons for an oft-repeated offense and I broke down and admitted to him, “I just didn’t know how else to help you.” I am committed to faithfully correcting, training, instructing, and disciplining my son, but it wasn’t until I was at this point of desperation that I specifically acknowledged to my son his need for God’s help.

May God cause our desperation as dads to drive us to greater dependence on Jesus.

Search/Filter Posts

Search by keyword, topic, author, Bible reference and more to find any blog article.