Daily Words of God: Knowing God | Excerpt 126
The Fifth Juncture: Progeny
After marrying, one begins to raise the next generation. One has no say in how many and what kind of children one has; this too is determined by a person’s fate, predestined by the Creator. This is the fifth juncture through which a person must pass.
If one is born in order to fulfill the role of someone’s child, then one rears the next generation to fulfill the role of someone’s parent. This shift in roles makes one experience different phases of life from different perspectives. It also gives one different sets of life experience through which one comes to know the sovereignty of the Creator, which is always enacted in the same way, and through which one encounters the fact that no one can overstep or alter the predestination of the Creator.
1. One Has No Control Over What Becomes of One’s Offspring
Birth, growing up, and marriage all bring disappointment of various kinds and in different degrees. Some people are dissatisfied with their families or their own physical appearance; some dislike their parents; some resent or have complaints about the environment in which they grew up. And for most people, among all these disappointments, marriage is the most dissatisfactory. No matter how dissatisfied one is with one’s birth, maturation, or marriage, everyone who has gone through these things knows that one cannot choose where and when they were born, what they look like, who their parents are, and who their spouse is, but must simply accept the will of Heaven. Yet when it comes time for people to raise the next generation, they will project all the desires they failed to realize in the first half of their lives onto their descendants, hoping that their offspring will make up for all the disappointments of the first half of their own lives. So people indulge in all kinds of fantasies about their children: that their daughters will grow up to be stunning beauties, their sons dashing gentlemen; that their daughters will be cultured and talented and their sons brilliant students and star athletes; that their daughters will be gentle, virtuous, and sensible, and their sons intelligent, capable, and sensitive. They hope that their offspring, whether they be daughters or sons, will respect their elders, be considerate of their parents, be loved and praised by everyone…. At this point, hopes for life spring afresh, and new passions are kindled in people’s hearts. People know that they are powerless and hopeless in this life, that they will not have another chance or another hope to stand out from the crowd, and that they have no choice but to accept their fates. And so they project all their hopes, their unrealized desires and ideals, onto the next generation, hoping that their offspring can help them achieve their dreams and realize their desires; that their daughters and sons will bring glory to the family name, become important, rich, or famous. In short, they want to see their children’s fortunes soar. People’s plans and fantasies are perfect; do they not know that the number of children they have, their children’s appearance, abilities, and so forth, are not for them to decide, that not a bit of their children’s fates is in their hands? Humans are not the masters of their own fate, yet they hope to change the fates of the younger generation; they are powerless to escape their own fates, yet they try to control those of their sons and daughters. Are they not overestimating themselves? Is this not human foolishness and ignorance? People will go to any length for the sake of their offspring, but in the end, one’s plans and desires cannot dictate how many children one has or what those children are like. Some people are penniless but beget many children; some people are wealthy yet have not a single child. Some want a daughter but are denied that wish; some want a son but fail to produce a male child. For some, children are a blessing; for others, they are a curse. Some couples are intelligent, yet give birth to slow-witted children; some parents are industrious and honest, yet the children they raise are indolent. Some parents are kind and upright but have children who turn out to be sly and vicious. Some parents are sound in mind and body but give birth to handicapped children. Some parents are ordinary and unsuccessful yet have children who achieve great things. Some parents are of low status yet have children who rise to eminence. …
2. After Raising the Next Generation, People Gain a New Understanding of Fate
Most people who enter wedlock do so around age thirty, a time in life at which one does not yet have any understanding of human fate. But when people begin to raise children, and as their offspring grow, they watch the new generation repeat the life and all the experiences of the previous generation, and, seeing their own pasts reflected in them, they realize that the path walked by the younger generation, just like their own, cannot be planned and chosen. Faced with this fact, they have no choice but to admit that every person’s fate is predestined, and without quite realizing it, they gradually lay aside their own desires, and the passions in their hearts sputter and die out…. People in this period, having essentially passed the important waymarkers of life, have achieved a new understanding of life, adopted a new attitude. How much can a person of this age expect from the future and what prospects do they have to look forward to? What fifty-year-old woman is still dreaming of Prince Charming? What fifty-year-old man is still looking for his Snow White? What middle-aged woman is still hoping to turn from an ugly duckling into a swan? Do most older men have the same career drive as young men? In sum, regardless of whether one is a man or a woman, anyone who lives to this age is likely to have a relatively rational, practical attitude toward marriage, family, and children. Such a person has essentially no choices left, no urge to challenge fate. As far as human experience goes, as soon as one reaches this age, one naturally develops a certain attitude: “One must accept fate; one’s children have their own fortunes; human fate is ordained by Heaven.” Most people who do not understand the truth, after having weathered all the vicissitudes, frustrations, and hardships of this world, will summarize their insights into human life with two words: “That’s fate!” Though this phrase encapsulates worldly people’s realization of human fate and the conclusion to which they have come, and though it expresses humanity’s helplessness and could be described as incisive and accurate, it is a far cry from an understanding of the Creator’s sovereignty, and is simply no substitute for knowledge of the Creator’s authority.