Disappointed Parents: You Never Know What God Might be Up To

by | Apr 19, 2021 | what you can do | 2 comments

photo cred.pixpoetry.unsplash

Life is full of surprises and disappointments. We never know what we’re going get, like Forrest Gump’s momma said about a box of chocolates. Some surprises are good. We’re grateful when we receive them. Others are not. We wish we never experienced them. When we’re a disappointed parent, this is especially true. We only want the good kind.

I Never Imagined

  • I never imagined my daughter would struggle with addiction, cutting, or mental health issues for over fifteen years before stabilizing.
  • I never imagined how many unwanted, painful surprises I would experience on my parenting journey.
  • I never imagined my husband and I would start a ministry to help other hurting parents, lead support groups, help others start them, or that I would write and publish a book about our story.

I also never imagined my husband and I would meet one of our heroes of the faith, Dr. James Dobson, or be interviewed on his worldwide radio program, Family Talk. Full of inadequacy that day, God gave me His words. You can listen to the 2-part interview on our website. Click here.


Dear parent, you never know what God might be up to in your story; how He may work in your life or in your child’s. The story of “The White Horse” recounted by Max Lucado could foreshadow what’s to come for you.

The Story of the White Horse

“…a white stallion rode into the paddocks of an old man and all the villagers had congratulated him on such good fortune.

And the old man had only offered this: “Is it a curse or a blessing? All we can see is a sliver. Who can see what will come next?”

When the white horse ran off, the townsfolk were convinced the white stallion had been a curse. The old man lived surrendered and satisfied in the will of God alone: “I cannot see as He sees.”

And when the horse returned with a dozen more horses, the townsfolk declared it a blessing, yet the old man said only, “It is as He wills and I give thanks for His will.”

Then the man’s only son broke his leg when thrown from the white stallion. The town folk all bemoaned the bad fortune of that white stallion. And the old man had only offered, “We’ll see. We’ll see. It is as He wills and I give thanks for His will.”

When a draft for a war took all the young men off to battle but the son with the broken leg, the villagers all proclaimed the good fortune of that white horse.

And the old man said but this, “We see only a sliver of the sum. We cannot see how the bad might be good. God is sovereign and He is good and He sees and works all things together for good.”

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

All things. Every experience and event.

photo cred.Dena Yohe

A Curse or a Blessing?

“How can I really see if a seeming disaster or dilemma, is actually dire?

My focus need only be on Him, to only faithfully see His Word,

to wholly obey . . . all we can see is Christ –

and in Him all is grace.”

 ~ Ann Voskamp

When you pray for a long time yet still see no answers, only the problems in your child’s life growing worse, believing anything good could come from your pain is hard to swallow. I get it. But real life God-stories can bring renewed hope. Over the last twelve years in our Hope for Hurting Parents ministry, I’ve collected stories of people I know personally. I pray they will be a source of encouragement for you.

Please hold on to hope that what you see today could become a blessing instead of a curse.

God-Stories of Hope

A former agnostic, partying son is now a lover of Christ, passionate about studying the Bible and apologetics. He has a ministry to high school students and works full-time with a Christian non-profit.

A former drug addict/alcoholic who was on the streets, then in prison, is now a hard-working man with his own business and an attentive father who gives all the glory to God as he helps others conquer their addictions.

A previously gay man, after almost losing his life at the Pulse nightclub shooting (shot 6 times), renounced his lifestyle, renewed his commitment to Christ, and now leads a movement of love to help others find freedom.

A man who was serving a long prison sentence for murder (one he admitted he did commit) was radically saved behind bars. When he was released after serving his time, he started a Christian half-way house to help other men rebuild their lives. Today the half-way house has been in existence over 40 years. He’s happily married and raised a family.

A former heroin addict is now a drug rehab counselor with a master’s degree in counseling.

photo cred. New Spring Church

A former lesbian (20 years) now lives a celibate life enjoying her femininity, her relationship with Christ, and ministers to families of those in the LGBTQ community.

A former alcoholic unexpectedly became a parent, got sober, turned to Christ, and has been involved in the recovery community for over 25 years sponsoring, mentoring, speaking – never relapsing even once. (It IS possible!) She gives God all the credit.

A formerly depressed, suicidal, self-injuring, habitual pot-smoker, is now a strong Christian who lives an emotionally healthy life. Today they are a certified mental health counselor.

A rebellious, angry teen who struggled with self-injury and involvement in the occult, is now a Christian counselor helping troubled adolescents. She wrote two books to help others who struggled like she did and is the happily married mother of three.

A mom whose son is gay son has a ministry to the LGBTQ community, giving hope and showing God’s love.

A dad whose daughter was addicted to heroin wrote a book to help other families. He and his wife traveled the country for over 10 years, leading retreats for families of addicts. His daughter is now a licensed, mental health counselor.

– A father of a former addict/alcoholic with mental illness and a prison record became an addictions specialist and started a church for people with substance use disorders and their families who are in recovery.

A mom with a son who struggles with addiction and mental illness now leads a support group for other hurting parents.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,

to those who are the called according to His purpose.

(Romans 8:28)

Our Prayer

Lord of surprises, remind me that while my life has not gone as I expected, I never know what You might be up to. You’re able to do far more than I could ever imagine in my life and in my child’s. Make my life whatever You want it to be. Help me surrender my will to Yours. I look to You for greater joy and fulfillment than anything this world has to offer. For Your glory. Amen.

Recommended books:  

God Can Use this for Good by Max Lucado                                  

Chains be Broken by Shannon Leigh Rowell

Out of a Far Country by Christopher and Angela Yuan

A New Kind of Normal by Carol Kent

Suffer Strong podcasts, “Beauty and Trauma” interview with Dr. Curt Thompson with co-hosts Katherine and Jay Wolf, Hope Heals ministry. Authors of Suffer Strong and Hope Heals. “There can be beauty in every broken thing.”


** Today’s blog post is from the archives. 


  1. Milagros Almodovar

    I have two stories to share. My son was addicted to opiods for about 8 years. He was in a really dark place. Me and his wife continued to pray for him. He is now chasing after God and has been cleaned for about 2 years.

    My daughter was addicted to weed and drinking and partying. After continuous prayer she is now sober for 4 months. She attends church. Parents, never stop praying for your children. It took many prayers and petition and surrendering my children to the LORD. Nothing is impossible with God.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Oh Milagros, thank you so much for sharing these two stories. How encouraging to hear that your children are in a better place. Praise God! Prayer really does change things! It’s our source of power. And you’re so right that surrender is the key!
      Grateful that our God is God of the impossible!!