The Helplessness of Yearning

Posted on March 19, 2018


By David Ettinger

A Sad Scene

aaron age 4

Aaron, age 4, and me at a football game in New Mexico.

Yesterday while visiting with my son Aaron and grandson Zac, Aaron and I played out a scene we have acted in before. It’s not a scene we play out often, as the conclusion is always the same, but it is a sad scene nonetheless.

You see, way back in 1986, I gave my life to Christ just following the dissolution of my five-year marriage. (I have never remarried.) I was age 28 and Aaron was 3. Despite the divorce, Barb and I had a very peaceful post-marriage relationship, and as part of that “peacefulness,” Barb was fine with me taking Aaron to church every Sunday.

Fatherly Devotion
I knew Aaron would be my only child, so I threw everything into raising him. Outside of the Lord Jesus, Aaron is my greatest love. I raised Aaron in the Lord. In so doing, I made Deuteronomy 6:5-7 my model:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

This upbringing included children’s Bibles, books, and music CDs when Aaron was very young, followed by more age-appropriate materials. When Aaron was age 9, we read all seven of C.S. Lewis’ “Narnia” books together, as well as some young-readers’ fare by Frank Piretti, followed by his “Darkness” books when Aaron hit his teens. But more than anything, Aaron and I read the Bible together. This included all 66 books. My fatherly devotion dictated such care.

Breaking Ties

aaron age 19

Aaron, age 22, and me.

Following Aaron’s graduation, both of us left New Mexico and moved to Orlando, Florida. During the three years we lived together, Aaron and I attended church, and we continued to read the Bible together and discuss spiritual things.

However, as he reached his 20s and eventually moved out, Aaron began to break from the upbringing I gave him. No, no bad behavior, rebellion, or anything like that. Aaron is a hard worker and sought to make a good life for himself. What he broke away from was His belief in the essentials of the Christian faith.

Basically, his main argument is a common one: How can a loving God allow such evil to exist in the world, and worse – much worse in Aaron’s eyes – is the issue of Hell. He and I have discussed these matters several times over the years, but Aaron is still firm in his unbelief.

Where He Stands
Aaron is doing extremely well. He is married to a wonderful wife, Kati, and is a loving and doting father to his 16-month old son Zac. He has a fantastic job, and the three live in a very nice home.

I am now 60 and Aaron is 34. Our relationship is still extremely close and we both still very much enjoy each other’s company. And of course there is that little guy, Zac, who I love more every time I see him. Regarding those areas, everything is fine.


wedding picture

Me with Aaron and Kati at their wedding.

But there is the issue of Aaron’s unbelief, and his full understanding of but refusal to accept the fact that unbelievers are destined for eternal damnation if they leave this world without having accepting Jesus Christ into their lives. This is how he put it yesterday: “Dad, for me [the doctrine of] election is the deal breaker. This makes no sense at all. Why would God create a world so long ago knowing that millions and millions of people would go to Hell? To me, that’s not a loving God.”

I rebutted briefly, but there was no need replaying a scene which would end the same way it always does.

The Helplessness of Yearning
As I drove home from Aaron’s house yesterday, I was filled with a feeling of helplessness. By nature, I am overly aggressive and know I can argue persuasively for most issues concerning Christianity. In dealing with practical issues, I generally attack them and make quick work of them.

But in matters of faith – especially my son’s faith – I am helpless. I can pray, and do pray, but of my own “power,” there is not a single, solitary thing I can do. My helplessness extends to Aaron’s brother and sister (from Barb’s second marriage), who I love as my own, and my entire Jewish family in the Northeast. Thirty-one-plus years and counting, and not a single family – or extended family – member coming to faith in Christ.

But my deepest yearning is for by beloved son’s salvation, and I am helpless to do anything about it but pray. Of course, this is the best thing a Christian can do, but it does nothing to relieve the feeling of futility.

I’m sure many of you share in this helplessness of yearning for those loved ones you are praying fervently for. It’s a humbling and disheartening feeling for we aggressive, result-driven, impatient individuals who always want to do something, and do it now!

But I also understand that in the yearning, God is molding and teaching. All I can do is pray. Nothing else. And this is exactly as the Lord would have it. And with this truth, I realize that though the yearning goes on, there is no helplessness whatsoever in the Lord.

Read my testimony, “My Journey from Judaism to Christ.”