Do you have days when you feel helpless to do anything for your child who is suffering with an addiction, mental illness, self harm or some other self-destructive behavior? Join the parents-in-pain club. We all struggle with these feelings and at times they can be overwhelming. It feels like there’s nowhere to turn. You become desperate to do something to help your son or daughter, but you realize you’re powerless to do so.
Here are three helpful thoughts taken from a devotional book for parents in pain by Robert J. Morgan called Moments for Families with Prodigals. It’s moment Eighty-one. Morgan says we have three indomitable weapons in our fight for our children’s souls – they are code named PTL. God wants us to be hopeful. Here’s how.
P = PRAYER
We can pray. Anytime, anywhere, without ceasing, while we are going about our daily routine. As Archbishop Trench puts it, “We must not conceive of prayer as overcoming God’s reluctance, but as laying hold of His highest willingness.” His will is that none should perish. Jesus taught us to pray and not give up; that we should believe and ask for the impossible; that anything was possible for him who believes. Prayer is the most important and powerful thing we can do for our prodigal.
T = TIME
It takes time for many prodigals to come to their senses. “Maturity, recovery, and rehabilitation are processes.” Time is on our side and our times are in God’s hands. After all, it’s taken a long time for Him to work on us, hasn’t it? We can be confident of the promise in Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Morgan says we need to learn to tell time on God’s clock and to trust His timing. He knows when to work, when to wait, when the right time is. He is never too early, never late, always right on time. We know this in our heads, but we are not so good at waiting. I’m terrible at it. When you begin to doubt God’s timing it’s hard to keep trusting His calendar of events. Father, help us trust that time is on our side, because you are.
L = LOVE
“We may not think of love as a weapon, but it sends a radioactive blanket over its target. There is no known antidote. Paul said, “Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:8)” and Psalms says over and over again that God’s love is unfailing. We can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to love our child unconditionally no matter what they’ve done or how much they’ve hurt and disappointed us. As we continue showing our children His love by how we respond and interact with them, this love can win them back. Tough love has the power to change lives. It might not always be pretty – it might mean telling your child they can’t live with you if they persist living a lifestyle that consistently disrupts your home or is against your values. Often the hardest and most painful thing is the most loving thing we can do. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (I Corinthians 13:7 New Living Translation)
“So the next time you wake up in the middle of the night feeling helpless, just remind yourself that you have an arsenal of weapons: prayer, time, and love. Together they have broken down many a stronghold and reclaimed many a life. They are God’s weapons that have been put at your disposal. You are not powerless after all!! PTL! Praise the Lord!”