What Can Make the Difference in the Life of a Prodigal?

by | Jan 10, 2022 | what you can do | 7 comments

photo cre. Nsey Benajah

Sometimes parents don’t like who their children have become. They’re rude, disrespectful, mean, and hateful towards us. We can’t believe who they are today. What can make a difference in their lives? We’re not sure. We wouldn’t want to tell you the truth if we met to talk. We’d whitewash the truth and sugar coat their situation. Our heads hang low, our eyes stare at the ground in shame.

We love our sons and daughters with all our hearts. We’d give our lives for them, yet somehow they see us as their enemy.

What Happened?

What happened to them? To us? A lot has happened.  A whole lot–enough to fill the pages of hundreds of books or hours and hours on YouTube videos.

Alcohol and drugs; mental illness and incarceration happened.

Abuse and rejection and all kinds of trauma happened.

Sadly, whatever happened to them changed them and us…not for the better.

Before we knew it, our child was no longer the person we once knew.

And now we grieve. We want them back the way they used to be.


The sweet, innocent child we  raised, who we have a wealth of special memories with, is gone. They slipped away to a far country and can’t find their way back home. What’s worse is that they don’t want to return. They stopped caring. If we’re honest, maybe we have too.

How did we get here?

Mystified, our pain is deep. They’re still our beloved offspring, the ones who held our hearts; our hopes and dreams.

Underneath all the muck and mire is a frightened, confused, weary soul…this might describe both of us.

Our precious child is still there…somewhere.

Is there any hope of restoration?

What can make the difference in their lives?


photo cred. Dena Yohe

Unchanging, unconditional love–from God and from us– can make the difference. 

None of us deserves this kind of love, yet no matter what we’ve done, His love never fails. And He can help us keep on loving when loving is hard; when we don’t know how anymore.

God’s love is enduring. It will never cease to exist. His love relentlessly pursues–ours should too.

His love won’t wear out, give out, or fizzle out.

It’s impossible for the love of God to end.

He can empower us to “keep our love on” as well.

The Bible tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. He can love our unlovable children through us. With Him, we can.

The Scriptures have much to say about love. May they inspire us to love well, inspired by God’s example.

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:38, NLT).

NOT A THING can separate us from radical, divine love. None of the things listed in Romans 8: death, life, angels, demons, fear, worry, the power of hell. None of them.


What We Can Do

What a comforting truth to know how much we are loved by Almighty God. The all-powerful King and Creator of the universe, who made everything that exists, who raised Jesus from the dead, loves our children with an undying love no matter what they have done or what has been done to them. Nothing disqualifies anyone from being a recipient of eternal love.

This gives me hope that if God could love our children that much, with no strings attached, then one day they might be healed and whole again.

What can we do?

While God is loving and good, there’s no guarantee our children will recover. But we can do our best to love them where they are, as they are. God will do whatever it takes to help us reach them with His endless love. God is faithful and He can do it. We need to trust Him to never stop seeking them. Therefore, we can release our precious ones into His hands and go on with our lives. Because…

His love surrounds our children (and us) wherever they go.

His love is available to them every day of their lives, until they breathe their last.

Oh, the power of love that changes lives.

When I wrote this, I remembered the words of an old hymn I’ve always found comforting:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

His mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning, new every morning.

Great is thy faithfulness, O Lord.

Great is thy faithfulness, O Lord.

Great is thy faithfulness.”

Resources for You

Click here if you’d like to listen to a recording of the song.

And this is another one about the love of God, The Power of Your Love.

One more I wanted to share with you is, You Say by Lauren Daigle. It’s perfect for our children who no longer feel worthy of God’s love. May the day come when this is true of them.

The Bible sums up my thoughts on God’s unfailing love in these verses: (all from the NIV)

Lamentations 3:21-23  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Psalm 119:76a  May your unfailing love be my comfort . . .

Jeremiah 31:3  I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Psalm 57:10  Great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Because God’s love never fails, there is hope for everyone.

Recommended books:

Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk

When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado

When You Love a Prodigal by Judy Douglass

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

**In what way have you seen the power of love — God’s or yours — make a difference in your child’s life or in your relationship with them??  What are some ways you show love in a way your child could accept?


  1. Melody H.

    The past two years have been the most difficult of my life, as I’ve been dealing with a teen daughter with an anxiety disorder, depression, OCD and self-harm. She has been hospitalized 4 times this year because she was a danger to herself. It has become so very hard for me to relax or feel safe (for her). Even when things seem to be going smoothly, I find I’m waiting for the next crisis and it is difficult to really rest. I found your blog while searching for some kind of support group online, and I can’t tell you how much it has encouraged me. I’ve been praying all along and I believe you are one of God’s answers to me. Everything you have posted speaks to me and the things I struggle with. Thank you, thank you, thank you. God bless.

    • denayohe

      Thank you for your comment Melody. I am so sorry to hear about these trials with your daughter and I am so glad the Lord lead you to my blog! I completely understand how you feel. Like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Hospitalized 4x in a year, oh my, how hard for you! You are probably suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, at least to some degree. You may want to do some research on this online and see what you think. Talking to a counselor could really help you process your emotions. If you need help finding a good one (especially if you’d like to find a Christian counselor) let me know and I may be able to direct you in this if you aren’t sure who to go to. It is a horrific nightmare no one can really understand except for those who have been through it. I strongly urge you to find a support group in your area. You desperately need to be with other parents who are also struggling like you are. It’s such a comfort to know we are not alone and can draw on each other’s strengths. Have you found anything like this? Again, I am so glad my blogs have helped you and encouraged you. You may also enjoy my daughter’s blog – your daughter might, too. Go to: reneeyohe.com

      • denayohe

        Melody, I almost forgot to tell you that I recently found a great website which offers online support groups! I have confidence in the mom who is behind it, Diane Viere. She also has a weekly live talk radio program and you can listen to their archived programs. They are quite good! Recently my boss at Campus Crusade for Christ, Judy Douglass, shared her story. Go to: partnersinprayerforourprodigals.com and check it out. There are many great resources there! You can post prayer requests and people will pray for you and for your daughter. Campus Crusade also has something similar that I help with called, Prayer for Prodigals. It is a great resource (prayers to pray, Bble verses, devotionals, books, websites and places for help all over the country). If you want to check this out send me an email and I will send you and email invitation. It is a confidential, protected site, for your privacy. Hope these things will help you on your journey.

  2. Melody

    Thank you so much, Dena!
    I looked at partnersinprayerforprodigals and found just the message I needed for today. I will become a regular visitor there, as I am to your blog. I have been so busy with my daughter’s treatment and therapy that I have put my own needs aside. But I know it is time for me to find support and help as well. I do know of a very good Christian counseling organization in my area and will be calling them today. Again, bless you.

    • denayohe

      So glad you went and checked out that site and that you liked it! We need all the resources we can get, don’t we? Good for you on calling that counseling group! I applaud that step in taking care of yourself! It is so easy to overlook our own needs when our chlld’s are so all-consuming. Maybe they can help you find a support group, too! At least you might want to try out the online one through The Prodigal Hope Network (part of partners in prayer for our prodigals). I am going to participate in one hopefully this week! God bless you today as you continue on your journey!

  3. AJ

    Hi! I am new to this ministry. We are in our mid-60’s, raising our youngest daughter’s child’s two special needs boys (ages 6,9) while she lives out of state. She married an alcoholic, abusive husband with many personal issues in college, and has now been with him 10 years. We got custody of the boys five years ago as things were so bad. For a period of 8 mos., she (who had joined HIS party) got sober, lived near us while in rehab… but then broke our hearts and went back to him/to the other state again. (He had violated his restraining order while pursuing her). It has been two years since she left again. Her boys are losing hope. We are losing hope. Acc. to reports from his family, they are “drinking themselves to death.” We are running flat out to nurture and raise the two boys and don’t have the bandwidth to help or rescue her. Please pray for us. Also, I looked online for partnersinprayerforprodigals and could not find the site.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      AJ, thank you for reaching out to us. Oh how our hearts ache for you, your husband, and your precious grandsons. May God open your daughter’s eyes before it’s too late to want to get sober and begin a new life, at least for her boys’ sake. You must be weary and heavy-hearted. What a long two years for you all. I’m so glad your grandsons have you, especially since they have special needs. You know you can’t save your daughter…but you can make her sons feel loved and secure. They need that so much and you are providing that. I pray as they get older that they will realize their mom leaving had nothing to do with them, but it was her issues. I also pray God supplies the stamina and endurance you need every day to raise them. May they grow up to be wonderful young men who will one day care for both of you out of great love and appreciation.

      I believe Partners in Prayer for Prodigals is no longer active. I can’t find anything either!
      But I can connect you with the ministry called Prayer for Prodigals that I am affiliated with.
      They have a public FaceBook page and you can access their website after you create a password. Send an email to PrayerforProdigals@gmail.com asking to join or go to prayerforprodigals.com and follow the prompts. Let me know if you have any questions.

      I also wanted to invite you to an online prayer gathering I’m hosting this coming Wednesday, Jan. 19th from 8 to 9:30 PM EASTERN time. This will be via Zoom. I do these about once a month. Let me know if you’d like the link to register for this prayer time. You’ll receive a reminder about this one and any future prayer gatherings.

      Let us always pray and never give up. As long as your daughter is still breathing, there is still hope.

      Sending a big heartfelt hug to you.
      In Christ,


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