A Thanksgiving Message for Brokenhearted Parents

by | Nov 25, 2019 | what you can do | 5 comments

photo cred. Claudio Schwarz on unsplash

Parents of teen or adult children who struggle with substance use or mental health issues (or any other distressing situation) find the holidays the most difficult time of year, especially Thanksgiving.

After relapses and hospitalizations, diagnoses and treatment centers, incarceration or homelessness– when you have no idea what the future holds, but what you do see doesn’t look good, gratitude feels impossible.

Hanging on by a thread, your world is wrecked by their self-destruction.

Everywhere you go, people appear happy … except you.

When your heart is broken, giving thanks is a supernatural feat.

Smiling is a burden.

I remember a time like that. A lot of pain and heartache. Functioning with no joy and little hope.

How can we express gratitude in the midst of trials? We can identify a few of God’s countless blessings.

Don’t feel like it? Do it anyway–by faith, not based on emotions.

If we waited for good feelings, we’d never give thanks. The burden is too heavy.

3 Ways We Can Offer God Thanks in Hard Times

Marcus Wöckel

Pastor and author Dr. Charles Stanley says we can still give thanks even when it’s hard in these 3 ways:

1. Offer God thanks with music and song. Get out an old hymn book or go to YouTube and type in the names of a few you remember.
2. Offer God thanks by living your life for Him. Everything you do is an offering to the Lord.
3. Offer God thanks with generosity to others. Ask Him for an idea of what this might be.

Dear heartsick parent, the holidays are hard, but try to do any of these and see if the heaviness lightens–they might bring you some joy. By the power of His glorious might I believe it’s possible.

A few days ago, a hurting mom shared with me how she focuses on others during the holidays and this brings her great joy. Showing kindness and generosity to someone in need helps her forget her own sadness for a little while. Nothing changes with her child, but she feels better.

Always [give] thanks for all things (Ephesians 5:20).

Turn Calamities into Blessings?

Garon Piceli

“If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness—

he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you.

For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing.

Could you therefore work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit, for it heals with a word speaking, and turns all that it touches into happiness.

… it be the noblest sacrifice that the greatest saint can offer unto God.”

Theologian, William Law (1686 –1761) from his book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life

Prayer: Father, grace each parent in pain who’s reading this today the peace, comfort, and strength that can be theirs by offering You this most noble sacrifice – thanksgiving and praise for the heartache they’re enduring with their child. Do a miracle and turn their calamities into blessings.




  1. Joy

    IPlease help me I’m drowning. I’ve lost my willpower and strength to go forward. Does he not hear my cries.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Joy, I’m so sorry you feel so bad. I understand. You are not alone. Yes, God hears your cries, but it doesn’t mean things work out the way we want. However, we can know with certainty that He is with us. He cares. He weeps with us. He will use all the pain to do a good work in our lives and through us to one day help others. Please find a support group. There are also online groups, but you need someone there in the flesh. Look on our website to see if there is a HHP group in your area. If not, please go to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon or Celebrate Recovery. Some churches may have their own groups. And if you aren’t connected with us on Facebook, we have a secret page just for sharing, venting, asking for help or prayer. I think you’ll like it. Just send me a FB friend request (Dena Yohe who lives in Orlando). When I accept it, i can send you an invite to the group.

      God comfort and encourage you today. Let’s schedule a phone call! I’d be happy to listen and pray with you, Joy.
      Warmly in Christ, Dena

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Joy, have you found anyone to talk to? I’d be happy to schedule a phone call if you’d like. Let me know.

  2. Cindy Quiroz

    I needed this. It helped me turn my focus around, which is not easy. Thank you.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Thank you for your comment, Cindy I’m so glad the blog helped you shift focus. You’re right, it’s not easy at all! But with God’s help, we can!

      Warmly in Christ,