Cry Out For The Children
By Carter Conlon
"Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street" (Lamentations 2:19).
The prophet Jeremiah was no doubt writing these words with a broken heart. He had witnessed with his own eyes all the young people in the streets who had been deprived of true hope for the future. Jeremiah was aware that godlessness had infiltrated the very fabric of his society. The people of God had lost sight of their spiritual inheritance, choosing instead to live for themselves in the moment. They had allowed the glorious future once promised them to slip through their fingers! How heartbreaking it must have been for this prophet, for he understood the desire and the promises of God. Jeremiah knew the Lord's purpose for these people who were supposed to be His testimony in the earth at that time.
Recently in my office late one evening, I glanced out my window that overlooks Times Square and could not help but wonder how closely our society resembles that which broke Jeremiah's heart. I saw hundreds of young people, the majority of whom have been spiritually starved in our schools. They have been raised to believe that there is no God, surrounded by a society that attempts to eradicate everything that has to do with the testimony of Christ.
Sadly, this is all happening because the people of God took His Word and dealt very casually with it. We allowed sin to prosper in our midst, which consequently brought a weakness upon the Church. Ultimately, we turned inward and began living for ourselves. Coming to the house of God became all about how to get a better career; how to develop a nicer personality; how to advance in society-all the while neglecting the fact that another generation was coming after us. In other words, we began to lose the burden of the Lord.
And now we find ourselves at risk of becoming like Hezekiah. Hezekiah was a king who had once known the presence and power of God. Yet when he received a word from the Lord that a day was soon coming when all that he had, including his sons, would be taken from him and carried away to Babylon, he responded, "Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?" (2 Kings 20:19). Hezekiah was essentially saying, "As long as none of this happens in my time, it is good." Oh, God help us that such a sentiment never gets into our heart! How tragic it would be if all we are trying to do is ride out the coming storm, completely unconcerned about those who are going to come after us.
As I looked out my office window that evening, I could see the hollowness in these young people-a vacancy, a desperate quest for something to satisfy the emptiness inside. They have been left to wander the streets, searching for scraps of reality and meaning to guide them into the future. Many are venting their anger through protests, attempting to grasp an elusive and just society that they will never find apart from Jesus Christ. The irony of it all is that if we had not denied our children the truth, they would be on their knees in the streets. They would know where the true power of God really is.
WHEN SOMEONE RISES UP
The Bible tells us of another time when the people of God were being afflicted and their children were seemingly in the grip of the enemy. "The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives...and he said, 'When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live'" (Exodus 1:15-16, NKJV). Eventually, Pharaoh went on to charge all his people: "Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive" (Exodus 1:22). The Israelite children were being cast into the river-a physical picture of what is happening in our generation as young people are being cast into a river of confusion.
All appeared hopeless, as if the enemy had completely taken hold of the next generation. However, the time finally came when one of God's people rose up. "And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank" (Exodus 2:1-3, NKJV). This young woman defied everything that was coming against her and her house, and she cast her child upon the mercy of God. You see, once in a while throughout history, someone rises up and declares, "No, devil, you are not getting my children! Not on my watch, for I know the living God!"
As this woman placed her child in a basket in the river, there was no way she could have known the fullness of the impact that her choice would make upon her nation. She did not understand that this child, Moses, would eventually deliver all his people out of bondage!
It is important for us to remember that when the day came for Moses to stand before Pharaoh's throne, he did not stand there in strength. Rather, he stood there in weakness in his old age. He was not carrying a sword nor was he clad in any armor; yet he had all that he needed-a staff in his hand and confidence in his God. As he faced the mightiest emperor of that time, Moses simply said, "I make no deals with you. We are all going-our young are going, our old are going, our children are going, our goats are going! Everything that belongs to the children of God is coming with us, and not one will be left behind! Not on my watch!" (See Exodus 10:9).
MIRACLES AND MERCY
Likewise, that same righteous indignation must arise in each of our hearts in this hour. As lawlessness abounds and our nation is being devoured by godlessness at an alarming rate, we simply do not have time for another superstar preacher to rise up. I thank God for those mighty men and women of God who have gone before us, but now it is time for the weak and the foolish, the nobodies and the nothings, to press in to the throne of God!
My heart sings with the thought that throughout scriptural history, when God wanted to do something profound, He often looked for the person who was the least able to make it happen. When He wanted to bring a prophet to the nation, He looked for a barren womb in a woman named Hannah. When He wanted to deliver His people from the hand of the Midianites, He appeared to Gideon-the least of his father's house, of the weakest clan in the tribe of Manasseh. When God wanted to give an incredible promise to a man named Abraham, telling him that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and that the whole world would be blessed through him, He waited until Abraham had no possible way of doing it in his own strength.
If only you and I could fully understand that we serve a God who is not looking for the most qualified or those who have it all together. He is looking for people with hearts of faith-those who still believe that they can come to the throne of God, not with their own strategies but with a heart that simply believes, "God, I know You are good, and I know that Your mercy endures forever!"
Remember that after Solomon prayed at the completion of the temple, the Lord appeared to Him at night and said, "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually" (2 Chronicles 7:12-16, NKJV).
When I read this passage of Scripture, I see something of the character of God: His willingness to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. You see, the kingdom of God is defined by miracles and mercy. It is about dead people living; the powerless obtaining the power of God. It is about a new song that God puts in the heart of His people, and many see it and fear and begin to trust in the Lord. The kingdom of God is about men and women becoming all that God destined us to be-laying hold of things that are not within our natural grasp, understanding truths which our natural minds do not know, and living in freedom which any amount of natural effort cannot bring us into. The kingdom of God is about miracles and mercy!
The Lord is waiting for ordinary people like you and me to say, "God, I have discovered something about Your heart. I know that You are a God who performs miracles, and I also know that You are merciful. Therefore, I am coming on behalf of the children of this generation. I am petitioning for those who have been robbed, those who have been left blind and wounded in our streets, those who are fainting and dying for hunger because we have denied them access to the living God. Yet You are merciful to us in our failure, and You will be merciful to this generation!"
IT'S TIME TO PRAY
Consider once again the words of our opening Scripture: "Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street" (Lamentations 2:19, NKJV).
Jeremiah was appealing to whatever true spirituality remained among the people of God in his day, and the same word applies to you and me in this hour. It is time for us to cry out for our children! There is much more at stake here than you may realize-the future of this next generation depends on it. Remember that Mordecai said to Esther, "Don't assume that you will be safe just because you stay home and try to protect yourself" (see Esther 4:13).
We have a prayer meeting at Times Square Church every Tuesday night, and I believe that it is more important to the future of our city, perhaps even to this country, than I can express to you. The prayer meeting is live-streamed, and people are participating from more than 140 nations. God has been answering prayers in profound ways. Praise reports are flooding in of people being healed, the addicted being set free, families being restored, children who have been alienated from their parents for years returning home. It is evident that the Kingdom of God is still about miracles and mercy-and so it is clearly time for you and me to pray!
You may find it encouraging to know that prayer has not always been the strongest part of my Christian life. Nevertheless, by God's grace I am going to pray, for it simply isn't right that the godless have had reign over our children. It isn't right that our schools, which are supposed to be places of intellectual discussion, have in many cases become places of indoctrination and mockery. I am not willing to sit idly by and let this generation die in its sin when we are still living in a season of mercy and miracles. By God's grace, I will not let them go without a fight, and neither should you! I believe we have the power to push back the darkness that is attempting to plunge our cities into chaos. I believe we have the power to position our children for a season of incredible mercy. In fact, the Lord has given us a magnificent promise in the Scriptures: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:5-6, NKJV).
I have always been encouraged by these last verses of the Old Testament. Many who study this passage believe that it has a dual application-referring not only to the first coming of Christ but also to the period of time just prior to His Second Coming. During that time, God will raise up a cry. He will raise it up from grandmothers, mothers, fathers, pastors-ordinary people who simply have a heart for God. It is that cry that will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. God will turn back the hearts of those who are spiritual fathers and mothers, but first you and I must be people of prayer.
Remember, we do not need to have a plan when we pray, for Jesus and the victory He won at Calvary is our plan; the power and mercy of God is our plan! When we pray, we are appealing to the faithfulness of God and the words He spoke through the apostle Paul: "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12, NKJV). In other words, we can be assured that the Lord is able to keep everything that we put into His hands. Therefore, we can believe for our children, our siblings, our parents and grandchildren-we can believe that not one will be left behind, just as Moses declared to Pharaoh!
I believe that we are on the edge of something incredible in this nation. However, it has the potential to be incredible in either one way or another-incredibly dark or incredibly glorious. Thus we find ourselves in a critical moment when we must make the choice to rise up and pray, asking God to forgive us for what we have done-for casually handling the great truth of His Word; for the lack of prayer in His house. It is time to ask Him for the grace to look away from ourselves and to believe for this next generation. May the Lord give us a baptism of faith that is deeper and more profound than we have ever known in our lifetime. As we cry out for the children and pour out our hearts like water before the Lord, may we once again witness God's miracles and mercy in our day!