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Adopted by God
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In Japan, all ages observe Revere Your Elders Day. Tribal leaders in Native American cultures are called wisdomkeepers and act as guides to younger tribe members. Sweden’s government provides for more than 94 percent of elder care. Families in Mexico take pride in caring for parents and grandparents. The oldest family member, whose job it is to settle disputes and lend guidance to younger relatives, heads Nigerian families.

Respect for elders, especially parents, is as important today as it was in Bible times. Unfortunately, the breakdown of the family structure has made it hard for many young people to respect their parents.

From bitter divorces, spousal abuse and single parent homes to the impossible schedules of overworked parents, children suffer through traumas along with the adults in their lives. Without the adult skills necessary to cope with such hurts, many children are left feeling unprotected and forgotten.

A three-year-old who knew only her first name—Courtney—was abandoned in Baltimore. Eighteen children were removed from their foster home amid allegations of abuse and neglect. A youth pastor abused his position of power and took advantage of several teenagers during his 30-year career. These stories made headline news, but many more children suffer silently each day. Respect for elders dwindles in young minds with each heart-wrenching experience.

This was never God’s plan.

Coming Full Circle

Our Creator, in ultimate understanding, knew how we could best serve each other as our lives come full circle. God created parents to love and care for their children as they grow from babies to young adults. Then, as parents become less able to care for themselves and children mature, childhood respect turns into loving care for now-elderly parents. Throughout the life cycle, supportive adults outside the immediate family circle provide nurturing, support and a safe place for children to explore and grow. This succession gives meaning, respect and honor to each age group.

The Bible often refers to humanity as the children of God (Matthew 5:9, Romans 8:16, 26), and imagery throughout the Bible compares God’s love to that of a loving and sacrificing parent. Romans 8:15 assures us, “God has adopted you and claimed you as His own. You may truly call Him Father.” Family life on earth isn’t always the way God created it to be; God yearns for healing within broken families and scarred individuals. When we study our heavenly Father’s map for our lives and the respect it commands for individuals of all ages, it helps us to understand how far we have to go in repairing family relationships and encourages us with visions of how wonderful life can be when we live according to God's plan.

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By Lauren Schwarz. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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