There are few passages in Scripture that people can relate to more than the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 5:11-31). It is a story of selfishness, squandering, despair, love, hope, forgiveness, and restoration. At some point in the story of this young son turning away from his father, we can find a nugget of ourselves between the lines.
Most may relate to the young son. I know I do, but consider that with every prodigal child there is also a parent praying and waiting.
The ache of watching children make wrong choices is agonizing. Parents powerlessly watch as their children suffer the consequences of their own actions. Like the father in the parable, the only thing to do is wait patiently and watch the road for the child’s silhouette to appear.
The good news of this parable is that it ends with reconciliation, restoration, and rejoicing. Prodigal children are in God’s hands, and He can care for them. The hope of their return is anchored in God’s grace and love.
Here are 10 reasons to trust God with your prodigal child.
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1. God is a good Father.
God loves all of His children, including prodigal children, and He wants the best for them. The father in this parable is presumed to represent God who watches His children turn away and seek their own plans (Psalm 78:10-11). As in the parable, some of God’s children eventually return, and He welcomes them with kindness and mercy (Jeremiah 30:3). God is a good father who gently restores prodigal children. In other words, He runs to greet them, gives them a new robe and ring, and throws a celebration.
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2. God is always watching our children.
In His omnipresence, God is watching our children. He is aware of their needs, their struggles, and their heartaches. In the story of Hagar, she runs away from her master and finds herself in a desperate situation. Hagar is alone with her infant son and frightened, but God sends an angel to tell her that he hears and sees her despair. She calls Him the “God Who Sees” (Genesis 16:7-14). Take courage in knowing that in the same way He saw Hagar, God is watching over our prodigal children.
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3. God has good plans for our children.
The prophet Jeremiah warned the Israelites of the consequences of their sin, yet they did not repent and were exiled. While they were living in exile, God sent them a message through the prophet telling His people to take heart, make the best of the circumstances, and endure because He had good plans for them.
The prophet told them that God would return them from exile and that they would prosper and have hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:4-14). Our heavenly Father has the same plans for errant children—to return them home, not to harm them but give them hope and a future.
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4. God protects our children.
Parents pray many things over their children, and protection is always near the top of the list. Our imaginations conjure up so many fearful situations. Our heavenly Father is also concerned with protecting His children.
To Joshua, as he was about to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, He says, “I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous…” (Joshua 1:5-6). In Isaiah 41:10, God tells the Israelites, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” With God as our helper, there is assurance that wayward children are under His protection.
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5. God gives more than second chances.
God doesn’t just offer second chances; He gives one hundred chances, a million chances— whatever it takes to restore relationships with His children. Consider Jonah, the prophet charged with preaching to his enemy but who instead turns and runs.
There were consequences for his disobedience, but the LORD gave him a second chance. “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you” (Jonah 3:1-2). We can be confident that just as Jonah got another chance, God is offering the same grace to prodigal sons and daughters.
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6. God is fighting for our children.
The battle for our prodigal children is being fought in the heavenly realms, and God is the Mighty Warrior. He is with our sons and daughters, and He fights to save them. To the Israelites, He says, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3:17). The world entices our children, but we know that God will defeat those strongholds.
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7. God is sovereign over everything.
God created the world and everything in it and He rules over His creation. Nothing happens that is out of His knowledge or control: “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). Because of this, we know that the paths forged by our prodigal children are within His control; and in His time and for His purpose, our children are rescued and returned.
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8. God is not surprised by their choices.
There is a not a day that unfolds that God has not already experienced, and there is nothing we do that He doesn’t already know will happen. Before words cross our lips, He knows our thoughts (Psalm 139:4). He is not surprised by what we or our children do because He sees the future. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). Our assurance rests in trusting that God knows the future for our children and that His plans will prevail.
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9. God is faithful to forgive.
Prodigal children need forgiveness, and God promises that if we confess our sins, they are forgiven (1 John 1:9). This parable is a beautiful picture of that kind of mercy. Once the son is visible in the distance, the father runs to welcome him home and celebrates his return. There is no condemnation, only forgiveness and love.
In the same way, God promises to forgive wayward children. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). Mothers and fathers can be confident that God forgives prodigal children and erases their transgressions if they return to Him.
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10. God desires reconciliation and rejoicing.
Christ came that we would be reconciled to God. Paul writes, “that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). In the parable of the lost coin that appears in scripture just before the parable of the prodigal son, there is much rejoicing when the owner finds the coin (Luke 15:9). In the same way, God and the heavens also rejoice when one prodigal child is reconciled and returns home. Like the father in the parable, He runs down the road to greet him with open arms.
Parents and family of prodigal sons and daughters, rest in the assurance that God is working through this season of your child’s life. While you wait for their restoration and their return to love and safety, we can trust God’s faithfulness, pray without ceasing, and watch the road.
Tamela Turbeville has a desire for every woman with a difficult past to know God loves them. She is wife to Richard, and mother to three grown sons and two beautiful daughters-in-law. When doing what she loves most-- studying God’s Word, reading and writing--she is surrounded by her six rescue dogs in her small office in south Arkansas. She began Living One Word to write and share how God loves the unlovable and you can read more about Tamela, her journey, and her family at www.livingoneword.com, on Facebook, and Instagram.
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Originally published Monday, 08 April 2019.