Where does one find encouragement and strength when confronted daily with disappointment and heartache? How do parents keep from falling into despair or bitterness as their beloved child spirals deeper and deeper into the world’s devilish snares? Oftentimes feelings of helplessness rule the day. “How long, O Lord, how long?” anguished hearts cry out to God. Perhaps the cries are even laced with (gulp!) tinges of anger.
Yet, rest assured, dear parent. God is not sleeping. He does see the whole picture. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He knows exactly what you’re going through. He knows precisely what is needed in your child’s circumstance.
But have you considered this? Perhaps He wants to not only reach your loved one; perhaps He wants to do a “growth” work in your life . . . in your family’s life. The Savior desires for each of His children to be drawn into an intimate relationship and reliance upon Him. He longs to demonstrate His immense love to every one of us individually—to show us His beauty in a personal, satisfying way—to take away energy-draining fear and replace it with satisfying assurance. An assurance so deep that we will say with confidence, “I know all my problems are under Your control, dear Lord. I will wait for You to work things out for Your good . . . to Your glory . . . in Your timing. With gratitude and thanks I choose to rest in You, completely.”
I just finished reading a newly released book titled, Hope for Parents of Troubled Teens: A Practical Guide to Getting Them Back on Track (Bethany House Publishers, 2012) by Connie Rae, LMHC, a counselor to families and youth for more than 25 years. This excellent book is geared mostly to parents of school-aged rebellious teens; yet the author’s thoughts and practical guidelines and applications for parents can apply to all parents of prodigals . . . and even to all of us as adults—God’s children who (more times than we’d like to admit) rebel in our hearts toward our heavenly Father. Here are some excerpts from Connie’s journey:
“There were moments of feeling totally helpless. There was nothing we could do. This child we loved was bent on his own destruction, and we didn’t know how to change his direction. “In my feelings of dreadful aloneness and frustration, I lashed out at God. He was the only hope we had, but where was He? . . . I was angry that He didn’t seem to care enough to save my son from the awful circumstances He was in. “I believed. Even in my most down moments, I still believed. But wrapped up in the believing was a kind of hopelessness that made me feel I was at God’s mercy. Maybe He didn’t even care all that much about what I was going through. “Then the light began to dawn. I started to realize that I wasn’t thinking so much about my son’s predicaments and rebellion as I was about how God could do this to me” (p. 200–201).
Mrs. Rae articulates the same battle I faced years ago during Wendi’s rebellion. Somehow, not purposefully, my own dealings with Wendi’s difficulties had become all about me. Connie Rae writes:
“I had to face my own self-righteousness as God reminded me of my quiet, veiled judgments upon other families who had experienced troubles with their teenagers. I realized I knew very little about God’s eternal purposes, and my thinking was all tied up with the here and now—the things of this earth. I wanted everything to be nice and happy now . . . I wanted God to give me a rose-garden existence. And, I was angry at Him for the rain and thorns” (p. 201).
As mothers (and fathers) we tend to want to “fix things” ourselves. Our rebelling child, the one we love so dearly—the child who, since birth, has always been our God-given responsibility— we just know he or she can’t make it without our supervision and continued advice. Yet, as our teen grows into adulthood there does come a point in time when we must release him or her to the Father’s care. Dan and I had to release Wendi to God; and Connie Rae had to do the same:
“It was necessary for me to come to the realization that my son had to face his own responsibility directly before God . . . The job was now God’s and His alone. We knew we were incapable of doing anything more, and God had promised to see us through” (p. 203).
As long as we have life and breath, our responsibility is always to “pray without ceasing.” We must hang-on tenaciously to the hope that comes through trusting God.
“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24
THINK ON THESE THINGS:
- Hope is a Person, not a preconceived result. God is our hope (Ps. 38:15), our strength (Ps. 18:1–2), our help (Ps. 46:1) in times of trouble . . . that is, if we get out of the way and let Him do His work.
- The work needed in our prodigal’s life is spiritual . . . It cannot be accomplished simply by human effort.
- Daily we must vigorously tend to our own personal walk with the Lord . . . That is how we will discover the joy, peace, and comfort we so earnestly seek.
- Pray without ceasing . . . It accomplishes MUCH! (James 5:16).
- Learn to wait. God’s timing is perfect . . . He’s doing so much more than we can see with earthly eyes. It took our daughter 20 years to come back to the Savior. At the time it seemed forever; today we rejoice. It was so worth the wait!