We have spent much time here on Divorce Ministry 4 Kids talking about the need for ministry to children of divorce. We have discussed Why Our Church Should Minister to Children of Divorce and why children of divorce and children from single parent homes are Modern Day Orphans. Today, I want to offer another verse of scripture which should represent a call to action to those of us in the church who minister to, or care about, children. Proverbs 31:8 tells us to,
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. [Proverbs 31:8 ESV]
In most cases, we expect parents to stand up for their children. It is the natural, and I believe God ordained, order of things. If a child has a problem, or needs some help or just needs to know that they have a steady foundation from which to launch their lives, we expect that child’s parents to fill that role. There is a reason that stories of abuse of children tend to stick with us and really get to us on a deep and emotional level. It is because we are supposed to watch out for our kids. We our supposed to provide for them and protect them. When those stories involve parents abusing their own children it seems so foreign, so unconscionable to us that a parent could intentionally and purposefully neglect or harm their own children.
Yet, for so many children of divorce they are left effectively, or literally, without parents to stand up for them. Studies show that large numbers of children do not see, or infrequently see, their non-custodial parent (generally the father) within 12 months following the divorce. Even those who do regularly visit their non-custodial parent report that that relationship was never the same following the divorce as it was before the divorce. Worse yet, these kids are rendered effectively parentless as the parent that they do live with becomes so consumed with their own emotional state and the divorce itself that they are no longer available to the child emotionally and time constraints mean they are not even as available physically to the child.
Someone needs to stand in the gap for these kids. Someone needs to look out for the least of these. Someone needs to open their mouth for the mute. As the church, as followers of Jesus Christ, that is our role. We can never replace the role of parent for a child, but we are part of a bigger family with a loving Father who has promised that He will never leave us and never forsake us. We must, with open arms, invite the children of divorce into that family and offer to them the healing and the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ. We must be there to speak for them when the trials and tribulations of a life lived between two homes has rendered them unable to speak up for themselves. We must be there to show them how to hope again and how to trust again and how to love again. And, ultimately, we must remind them of the source of that hope and trust and love. So, I challenge you today to open your mouth for the mute. Stand for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves. We must, as the church, stand up to protect and care for the children of divorce who are amongst us and who are in our communities.