Karilee Hayden •

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him (Psalm 42:11-ESV).

A concerned mother of a wayward child recently wrote to our ministry. “Your book gave me hope,” she began as she shared her personal prodigal story. That’s encouraging to our hearts, because the primary focus of our new ministry is to help families of prodigals discover and maintain hope amidst their pain.

So today I speak to the discouraged parent – the tired, the disheartened, perhaps even bitter mother or father – individuals who have prayed earnestly, diligently, for a wayward son or daughter, yet still await that prayer to be answered. Where is God? Does He truly care? Why does my child continue to snub his or her nose at the things we as parents have taught? Does God hear my prayers?

Ah, yes. The journey along side a “wild child” is, many times, excruciating. Hopes turn to disappointment and heartbreak, engulfing the souls – the daily lives – of mothers and fathers who love their child unreservedly.

Oh, how you long for your beloved child to come home to the Savior…to discover purpose and fulfillment in life…to find relief from self-destructive behavior. Oh, how you love!

And oh, how you cringe. How angry you sometimes feel! Yet, how saddened… Your child has not only failed to come home, but things have gotten worse. Perhaps despair has settled into the corners of life. Bitter thoughts flick through your mind. “God, you’ve really let me down. Do you not care?”

When Wendi and I began writing our story together, the common thread in our tale was that of HOPE. In fact, we originally titled our book “Hope in Dark Places.” For me, (the mother of a wild child for twenty years), finding hope in Christ amidst the pain was a journey. An arduous journey, but one of great reward. Early on in our daughter’s waywardness, I found myself placing my hopes in preconceived results: I hoped for resolution to our daily struggle with a child who rebelled at every turn…I hoped and prayed for protection from harm for Wendi…I hoped (and prayed) that God would reach down and rescue her, “Right now is a good time, Lord!”

And during this dual journey Wendi, too, sought hope: hope for fulfillment…for purpose…for relief from her difficulties…and ultimately for God Himself.

God taught me important lessons – crucial lessons – during Wendi’s 20-year-rebellion. Every lesson was custom-designed specifically to help me grow in Christ, discover His total sufficiency, and experience true joy amidst our family struggle. And I learned that not only is Christ alone our hope, but He is entirely trustworthy, even through the bad times. Especially through the bad times.

Do you have a prodigal whom you love deeply? Take heart! Our God of hope also loves your prodigal more deeply and purely than we humans can love; and He hears and answers our fervent prayers. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. …learn from me…and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). Determine today – right now – to discover who He is and what He wishes you to know concerning your daily struggle. Let Him restore your hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope! (Romans 15:13-ESV).