I don’t recall receiving a prophesy about my children on the days they were born. But I assure you that not even John the Baptist’s parents could have had bigger plans for their son than I did for mine. Isn’t it a universal phenomenon that parents invest all of their hopes and dreams in their offspring? The next generation represents our faith in the future, our belief that these children will hold the vision and opportunity to surpass anything we ourselves have done. While there may be no atheists in foxholes, I suspect there aren’t any in delivery rooms either.
By the tender mercy of our God (v. 78) tells us how this prophesy about John will be accomplished. All the other verses in the passage revolve around this phrase. The tender mercy of God will help Zechariah and Elizabeth parent their son as they guide him to become who God means for him to be.
The labor of love called parenting involves a blend of art and science. But helping our children to grow strong in spirit (v. 80) also involves an act of faith. If we are wise, we take the faith that we felt in the delivery room with us when we leave the hospital. Because our offspring are more God’s children than our own, drawing on God’s tender mercy is essential for the work of being a parent. God does not coerce, intimidate, legislate, or force anyone to believe—no matter what dreams God has for the futures of those God loves. And whether we are parenting or not, those of us who live by God’s tender mercy give light to those who need it and guide our feet into the way of peace
How do the tender mercies of God guide you to become who God wants you to be?
Have mercy on me, Lord, as I guide your children. Guide me when I fail you and let me try again. Amen.