How do you define success? For you personally, what makes a day to be a „good day“? How do you know your life decisions brought you forward? If you are like me, your answers will center around YOUR life: what you achieved, how you felt, etc.
Western societies tend to over-emphasize the individual. God has a different perspective: He is a God of the Generations. When he thinks of you, he also sees all the connections: Where you are coming from and where you are going to. Your ancestry and your children’s children. Your society, your culture, and how your life is shaping the life of tomorrow.
In order to be successful by his standards, we need to live beyond our own lives. When the settlers came to America, they knew: it will be hard for us, and maybe we will survive. It will even be hard for our children. But if we succeed, and our children succeed, our children’s children will have a better life. This kind of long-term perspective is rare in today’s thinking.
For a family, having kids is not about the well-being of the parents. Not even about the well-being of the kids. The question is, how can we raise our kids in a way that they can display godly values even when their society opposes God? How can they be Daniels & Esthers?
Jeremiah wrestles with God’s plan
In Jeremiah 32, we see a similar theme going on. Jeremiah knows from God that Jerusalem will be destroyed. But then his cousin asked him to buy out his land, and Jeremiah recognized this to be a command from God (v. 8). After the transaction, he complained: God, why?? (v. 25) He tried to make sense of that. He looked at the history of Israel and didn’t find a solution.
But God saw life beyond Jeremiah’s „today“. He re-affirmed that Jerusalem will be destroyed, but then gave hope: he will gather them and let them live in the land again (so buying land does make sense). And here is his end goal of all this:
„I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them.“ (Jeremiah 32:39)
He is after our hearts. And when we follow His heart, this will actually benefit to our spouse, our children, and our society. A healthy family is a testimony of God’s covenant.
And „healthy“ doesn’t mean you need to be perfect. Healthy means: staying connected with the vine (John 15). Without this connection, all fruit is temporary. But when your love grows to God, it will grow to people, too. The most spiritual thing you can do is not spending hours praying in tongues, believing for healing, or donating 90% of your income, but: to love (1Corinthians 13:1-3). This is the call that God gave you. And as marriage & family is a vocation, too: he has called you to be a God-fearing husband/wife, father/mother, son/daughter, etc.
So how about this criteria of success: Did I love well today? Did my actions reflect God’s love? Did we as a family experience his grace today? Did I model God’s values to my children?