A Word of Encouragement to Hurting Fathers

Maybe this Father’s Day weekend is tough for you because you have a child who has wandered from the fold and is not following God. While others rejoice as they celebrate this weekend, you’re more like the father of the prodigal son – watching, waiting, grieving, hoping, and watching and waiting some more.

Some of you know the anguish of the father. You did the best you could in raising your children, but at least one has made choices leading only to trouble. Another may have developed a pharisaical attitude like the older brother in the Luke 15 parable. You’ve been praying, trusting God to draw your wandering child back (and hoping that the return comes sooner than later). Nothing would mean more to you this Father’s Day than the return of your prodigal – and you’re asking God to make that happen.

You’ve been here before, though. Like last Father’s Day. And the Father’s Day the year before. And even the year before that one. Nevertheless, you still stand at the end of the driveway and watch for a returning child in the distance. You know it’s tough to keep believing, but you also know that giving up hope is to deny the power of God to change your child’s heart. So you pray some more and watch some more and wait some more.

I don’t have children, so I can’t sense all that you’re experiencing. I can, though, argue from a lesser to a greater perspective – that is, I do know what it’s like to grieve when one of my son/mentees wandered, and I’m sure my grief was only a taste of what fathers experience when their own children roam too far. I remember crying for my mentee when he was not even crying for himself. I longed for him to return when he longed only to avoid those calling him back. Somehow, I felt helpless even when I tried to simply entrust him to God’s care. 

I’ve learned since then that God keeps His eyes on His children, including those who wander afar. He loves our children more than we ever could. He who died for them continually draws them back to Him; they cannot wander so far that He does not know where they are. We may not always know, but God does . . . . and that truth ought to give us hope. He still calls back His own, just as He did for my son/mentee.

So, hurting father, keep praying, watching, and waiting. Don’t quit going to the end of the driveway. Don't let the enemy rob you of your hope. Instead, trust that you will someday see the dust rising as your child comes home.


  • brian says:

    Thanks Dr. Lawless for the words of encouragement on this day.

  • Brenda Harshman says:

    Thank you for writing this Chuck. I could have just as easily read this for Mother’s Day, Easter, Birthday, or the day of our daughters wedding, two months ago, when her brother wasn’t there. 10 years the pain never leave’s, but we continue to pray for God to work on this prodigal son. Thank you for the words…”that to give up hope is to deny the power of God to change my childs heart”. I will remember this, as this year unfolds.

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