There are so many times that I feel ill-equipped to parent my kids. I become discouraged by the path things are taking. I see things in them that worry me. I recognize that I only have them in my home for a few more years, and see the developmental and spiritual grounds that we have to cover. I feel helpless.
Recently I discovered the word “surety”. This word is an old English term, not commonly used in today’s speech. However, it was an important concept in Biblical times. It meant the act of making oneself responsible for another, sometimes in reference to a debt. A guarantor, a warranter.
Genesis 43:8,9 “And Judah said to unto Israel his father, ‘Send the lad with me…I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him.'” (KJV)
Or in other words:
Genesis 43:8,9 ” I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life.” (NIV)
These were the words of Judah to his father, Jacob, when he tried to persuade his father to send Benjamin to Egypt with him.
To give a very brief background, as a young boy, Joseph’s brothers had betrayed him by selling him into slavery; but while in slavery, he was promoted by God to being 2nd only to Pharoah in Egypt. At this time, he was overseeing the stored grain during a time of severe famine. His brothers traveled to Egypt to buy grain for their family, only to encounter Joseph without knowing it was him. As the brothers were leaving, Joseph demanded of them that, if they were to return, they must bring their youngest brother, Benjamin. This demand grieved Jacob terribly, thus Judah offered himself as a slave in his brother’s place.
When the governor of Egypt had commanded that Benjamin should be kept as a slave, Judah at once came forward as a substitute. Everything gave way to the thought, “My father entrusted him to me, and I am surety for the boy.”
Genesis 44:32 – 34 “Thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father…For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me?”
I have the gift and ability to be surety for my kids. I can stand on their behalf, before the Father, to pray for their safety and for their spiritual journey. I am NOT enough for them. But I can stand in their stead before the Father, who IS enough for them. I can wrestle in prayer over the battles that they are facing.
It isn’t very popular in today’s culture, but I believe that there is a strong element of self-sacrifice required of every parent to whom God commits the care of a child on his dangerous journey through life. We have the ability/responsibility to spiritually wrestle on behalf of our children – to be their advocates before God.
In the story of Joseph and his brothers, the end result of Judah being surety for Benjamin was that Joseph revealed himself to his family, and they were moved from poverty to a place of honor. Of course, there are no guarantees, but it is worth the battle to stand on behalf of your children to see God’s purpose accomplished in their lives.
If you don’t have children, you can still stand with children that you care about. Pray for the parents. Pray for the kids. Let’s battle together!