Fear and hope are not compatible. Yet fear is an ongoing factor when you love a prodigal, and the possible consequences of a prodigal’s choice are real reasons to be afraid. How do you keep hoping?
This is the third post in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on HOPE, which is the theme of the 2016 June 2 Worldwide Prodigal Prayer Day. This letter goes to the members of the Prayer for Prodigals community, but it is true for all of us
Dear Lover of Prodigals,
When you love a prodigal, you live with fear.
My friend Dena Yohe, in her soon to be released book You Are Not Alone; Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids, relates when she knew she had to confront her worst fears for her prodigal. She wrote them down so she could see them, acknowledge them and face them. Here are some of the desperate fears she recorded:
“I am afraid because Renee could…
Be kidnapped and held against her will
Be abducted and sold into sex trafficking
Disappear and never be seen or heard from again
Move away and sever ties with us forever
Suffer irreversible brain damage from drug use
Die from a drug overdose
Die from alcohol poisoning
` Give up and commit suicide to end her suffering.”
Some of us haven’t come to such extreme fears, but I know you have your own list of the fears that grip your heart, destroy your trust and steal your hope. How can we hold on to hope?
Remember our theme verse for this year’s Prodigal Prayer Day: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Yet fear overshadows our hope. What do we do with that fear?
We name our fears. We write down or say aloud what we are afraid of. That helps to take away some of the power of fear.
We allow ourselves to weep, mourn, lament the possible reality of the things we fear.
I find it helpful, after naming those fears, to offer them to the Lord, or lay them on the altar before him. I usually just lift my hands up, figuratively holding up my fears, to give them to the Lord. I have a few times written them on paper, then burned that paper, as an offering to the Lord.
Another key for me to get free from my fears is to say, “Thank You, Lord.” For the things I am afraid might happen to my loved prodigal? Yes, even for those. Thanking God is so freeing. It opens the door for God to work in me and in my prodigal.
How do you have fear and hope?
Then, we can remember that Scripture contains 365 admonitions to “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid.” One for every day of the year. A week’s worth of those Scriptures, spoken to some of God’s servants who had plenty of reason to be afraid, will get us started for the next seven days.
To Abram (Abraham) when he still had no heir: “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’” (Genesis 15:1)
To Moses when he was confronted from a large army from Bashan: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hands, along with his whole army and his land.‘”(Numbers 21:34)
To Joshua as he assumes leadership of the children of Israel: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
To Elijah when he had to tell King Ahaziah that he (the king) would die: “The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.’ So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.” (2 Kings 1:15)
To King Jehoshaphat when the armies of Moab and Ammon came against him: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15)
To the disciples when Jesus came to them walking on water: “But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’” (Matthew 14:27)
To the disciples shortly before the crucifixion: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John14:27)
Are our fears imaginary? No. They could come true in the life of a prodigal we love.
Will they return? Probably. New circumstances can trigger them. Our enemy the devil will send arrows containing those fears. We are weak and we grow weary.
So is hope real? Can it last? Will our hopes be fulfilled? Must fear and hope co-exist or can hope replace fear?
Hope placed not in our circumstances, the restoration of our prodigals, but in God Himself is real. It will last. That hope will be fulfilled.
The prophet Micah tells of his hope, even in the midst of betrayal: “For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies are the members of his own household. But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:6-7)
Waiting in hope,
What about you? What fear keeps you from hoping?
If you would be interested in requesting prayer for a prodigal loved one, or being a part of our wonderful praying community, respond in comments or write to me at PrayerforProdigals at gmaildotcom.
And watch for information on how you can get a copy of Dena Yohe’s wonderful book, You Are Not Alone; Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids, when it comes out.