Mother’s Day has come and gone.

Thank God, some women say.

You may have noticed them wiping their eyes in church while the sweet, sappy, I love you, Mom, you’re the best! video played. They weren’t crying because they were touched by the sentimentality of the footage. They were crying because their hearts were breaking. 

They were wondering if they’d ever hear their adult children say I love you, Mom again. They were looking at someone else’s child holding up a finger-painted card and wondering what went wrong with their own. They were watching the gangly preteen read a carefully written prayer thanking God for mothers and remembering their own children’s most recent words, which were anything but thankful. And instead of hurrying to collect their children from the nursery after service, they rushed home hoping to find a message on their voicemail.

Only to be disappointed.

Again.

They are the mothers of prodigals. 

If you are one of the ones who cried during that video for all the wrong reasons, I have six things to say to you.

1.  God cries for prodigals, too. 

He wept over Jerusalem, which he longed to gather to his breast, and he wept over adulterous Gomer, whom he wanted to heal and restore. God weeps for your children, too.

2. God is sovereign over rebellion. 

Jonah was running hard away from God.

Hard.

But God saw him, pursued him, chastised him, and won him back.

“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up” (Jonah 1:3-4).

“. . . But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights (v. 17).

God knows exactly where your child is, and he can engineer circumstances large and small to pursue him and win him back. Sometimes it’s the goodness of God that leads our children to repentance, and sometimes it’s his judgment. We can trust God to know which is most effective.

3. There are no perfect parents.

At night the voices whisper loudly. You lost your temper—a lot. You didn’t pray enough. You didn’t take them to church enough. You took them to church too often. You sent them to private school. You sent them to Christian school. You homeschooled them. It’s all your husband’s fault; if you’d married someone else it would have been different. 

These are all lies.

Adam and Eve had a perfect parent, and they still chose to go their own way. James 1:14 explains how each bears the responsibility for his own choices and his own sin—including our prodigal children. “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”

4. God can use the sins of others (including you) to accomplish his purpose in your child’s life. 

If you have sinned against your child (and we all have, either intentionally or unintentionally), God is sovereign even over that sin. If someone else has sinned against your child, God is sovereign over that as well.

Some of us came to Christ late and lived a godless example in front of our children. Although we’ve repented, forsaken, and asked forgiveness of God and our children, we find it hard to forgive ourselves.

Other times we see events in our children’s lives outside our control and wonder if those events pushed them over the prodigal precipice.