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Sins of the sons
Jason Nelson
by Jason Nelson
September 29, 2019

I know about pain that doesn’t go away. I wrote a book about it. I’m writing about it again, but not because of my miserable back. This is about the pain of having a child with pain that doesn’t go away.

I have a son suffering from mental illness, homelessness, addictions, and legal trouble. I have overreacted, underreacted, and not reacted at all. I facilitated court orders and devoted energy and resources to treatment for him with no lasting benefit. Doctors and police officers have told me they are seeing this more and more in young men. I’m telling you because I know I’m not alone.

I can’t describe the burden of sadness and responsibility I feel. I’m a Christian father. And I thought going to church and a Christian upbringing would inoculate my children from such consequences of sin. But, mental illness is in our family history. That was a risk factor for my son. He made it six times worse through alcohol and drug abuse. People have assured me that the sins of the sons may have nothing to do with the sins of the fathers. But that is not consoling.

My prayers are insistent: “Lord, you made your own promises to my son at his baptism and many times since. Please preserve the shred of faith he still has, and keep this one.” “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). I ask for your prayers as well.