Being the parent of a troubled son or daughter who has a history of making awful choices, who struggles with an addiction, a mental illness or with their sexual orientation, is life-changing. When their world looks like it’s on a downward path to destruction, yours feels like it is, too. Today is New Year’s Day. As many of your friends are setting goals for 2017, thinking about what they want to see happen, you just want your child to live, to be restored to you and your family. It’s difficult and scary for you to look ahead. I’ve tried not to look too far ahead – where my daughter is concerned – for a long time. 12 years. If you can relate, then I have a special word for you.
God is there. With you. The living God. In your pain. In the chaos. In the nightmare.
On your bad days, on the I-can’t-believe-this-is-my-life days, can you see his face?
In the darkest times, can you see his light?
In your most intense suffering, do you know his peace?
When you’re sinking in a pit so deep, can you feel his hand?
And when you’ve almost given up, will you breathe in his strength?
His face shines on you. Do you remember?
His light eliminates the shadows; it pierces the darkness that closes in on your soul. Do you still believe it?
The pain he endured on the cross brought you his perfect peace. His. Peace. Can this really be true? Really?
He’s right by your side, broken parent (grandparent or step-parent). He’s smack dab in the middle of the slimy, smelly pit you’ve fallen into that’s so deep you can’t see your way out. You’re not even sure if there is one.
But wait . . . his resilience can even replace your despair. Yep. He can obliterate it as though your heart was a chalkboard that he wiped clean off with a heavenly, super-eraser.
Almighty God be with you throughout all of 2017, the same as he was in 2016. He’s here, ready and eager to help. He’s in your life to help you find your way through. He’s your lifeline. Today, tomorrow, and forever. He makes this same offer to your child. If only they would . . .
When sin and trouble of all kinds take your child away, the only thing I know to do is keep giving them back to the Lord and trust him. In every storm keep trusting. Bring your child and your deadened heart to him. He can make it beat again and bring you back to life. If you do, he’ll give you a gift – hope. And that’s what we need to press on.
In my book, You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids, I wrote, “Are you focusing on what isn’t happening in your child’s life? On your dissatisfaction, disappointments, and shattered dreams? Or on what could happen in yours? You get to choose.”
Since we have no control over our child, let’s make the choice to focus on God: on who he is, on what he can do for us and in us. That’s our real hope.
This Bible verse strengthens this hope in me:
“I remember my affliction . . . the bitterness . . . I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3: 19-23).
Dear God, thank you for this gift of hope. We sure do need it as we face another year with our child. When we’re struggling, don’t let us forget your great love, compassion and faithfulness. What beautiful lifelines they are.