Open Your Mouth for the Mute
Today’s article is for the church and 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 kids suffering through family tradition or suffering trauma at the hands of a member of their family, they are left either literally or effectively 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 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. Child abuse and maltreatment is on the rise. Hurting kids are often left to fend for themselves and find their own way.
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 hurting children 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 life render 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 hurting kids who are in the halls of our churches and living in our communities.
This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on Divorce Ministry 4 Kids on August 13, 2012.