DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I don’t know what we did to be such bad parents. Our son (who’s 26) is constantly getting into trouble — writing bad checks, not paying his bills, etc. He always says he’ll change if we’ll just bail him out one more time, but he never does. Where did we go wrong? — Mrs. T.F.
DEAR MRS. T.F.: Your son alone is responsible for his actions; he can’t blame you for what he does, nor should you blame yourself or feel guilty because of his failures. Job declared, “If it is true that I have gone astray, my error remains my concern alone” (Job 19:4).
Does this mean it doesn’t matter how we raise our children? No, of course not. Children learn from us how to live, both from our words and our example. When we fail as parents, our children may be more likely to ignore what is right and do what is wrong. And if we’ve failed as parents, we need to face it and confess it to God (and sometimes to our children). The Bible says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
The real question you face, however, is this: How can you help your son right now? Can you do anything to teach him to be more responsible? Hard as it may be for you, the best thing you can do is not bail him out, but force him to face the consequences of his actions. He probably won’t change if he thinks you’ll always be there to bail him out.
Then pray for him, and urge him to turn his life over to Jesus Christ. Right now, he’s selfish and undisciplined, but God loves him, and his life will never be the same once he gives it to Christ.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: My aunt believes that if you just have a sunny outlook on life you’ll be healthy and almost never get sick. It seems to work for her, but is she just kidding herself? I have a hard time being optimistic with all the problems I have. — J.N.
DEAR J.N.: Modern medicine has confirmed something the Bible said long ago: Our minds and our bodies are closely connected, and what affects one often affects the other. The Bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
I often think in this connection of King David, and what happened to him after he did something that was terribly wrong. As a young man, he was faithful to God and sought to do what was right. But as the years passed, he went through what we today might call a “midlife crisis,” ignoring his responsibilities and losing sight of God’s moral standards. He ended up committing adultery, then tried to cover it up by ordering the death of the woman’s husband. But guilt ate away at his soul — and also at his body. Only after he confessed his sin and sought God’s forgiveness was his burden lifted. Later, he wrote, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3).
Having an optimistic attitude certainly may help us stay healthy (although sickness and disease can still strike). But how can we stay optimistic, particularly when life’s problems press down upon us?
The key is to turn our problems — and our lives — over to Jesus Christ. When we know Him, we no longer carry our burdens alone. The Bible’s promise is true: “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: If you could point to just one person in the Bible (other than Jesus) as a good example for people to follow, who would it be? Most of the people I’ve read about in the Bible seem to be a mixture of good and bad. — D.C.
DEAR D.C.: You’re right; even the most dedicated men and women in the Bible had their faults and weren’t perfect. As the Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). Those words were true of them, just as they are true of us.
Only one man was perfect — and that was Jesus Christ. This wasn’t because He tried harder than anyone else, or because He withdrew into the wilderness so no one could tempt Him. No, Jesus Christ was perfect for one reason: He was God in human flesh. And just as God is pure and without sin, so Jesus Christ was pure and without sin. As the Bible says, Jesus “has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
At the same time, learn from the men and women you meet in the Bible. They often lived in difficult times, and their faith and love of God should be an example and encouragement to us.
But most of all, make it your goal to live for Christ and be His follower.
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or go to www.billygraham.org.