10 Things God Wants to do for Your Troubled Child

by | Aug 21, 2017 | hope | 12 comments

Over six years ago my granddaughter was born 10 weeks early. Since she was a preemie, she spent the first couple of months of her life in an incubator. It helped sustain her until she could survive on her own. The incubator provided the environment needed to control her body temperature, oxygen levels, and the amount of humidity. While it was hard to see her in there, I knew that’s where she needed to be.

During those weeks I thought a lot about incubators and prodigal children. It occurred to me that our troubled sons and daughters are in God’s incubator.

The dictionary definition of incubator: An apparatus for maintaining an infant, especially a premature infant, in a controlled environment; a place or situation that permits or encourages formation and development . . .

Unlike preemies, our children have already been living in the outside world. But today they’re not well. Extra help is required for their formation and development to continue, so they can survive. They need to be lovingly cared for by the Great Physician in his intensive care unit.

In God’s incubator he wants to do these 10 things:

     1. Warm his calloused, cold, hardened heart.

     2. Breathe his abundant life into their lungs.

     3. Nourish their sin-sick souls with regular intravenous feedings of his Word.

    4. Care for them as their spiritual doctor, eager to provide all they need to not just survive, but thrive in the outside world.

    5. Wash them with the priceless blood of is Son.

    6. Change them to be pure both inside and out from the damage of their destructive choices through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.

    7. Clothe them in his righteousness.

    8. Swaddle them in his tender loving care.

    9. Heal all their wounds and diseases.

 10. Give them a brand new, abundant life (John 10:10). “. . . I came that they may have life and have it to the full.”

In God’s incubator problem escapes his notice.There are no errors. No mistakes. Nothing is missed or overlooked.

The person receives around the clock care from their Maker who provides perfect attention to the smallest detail. No problem is too serious or difficult. No one is beyond his expertise. He is the best one to care for them anywhere in the world.

He has all the wisdom needed. Every advanced degree – he has it. He possesses full knowledge of them. He’s able to provide for them at the right moment and in the right way.

This specialized treatment is quite expensive. On their own our child could never afford it. It cost God His Son, but he was willing to pay the price because he loves them so much.

When we think about our child, our heart bursts with love, yet he loves them far more. He knows what they require to thrive emotionally and spiritually. He’s able to orchestrate the events of their life to provide for that.

Parents of premature infants are eager to have their children come out of the incubator so they can hold them whenever they want, for as long as they want. (maybe your child was a preemie and you remember what it was like) Parents of prodigals feel much the same way. They’re eager to hold their children in their arms again; to have them back in their lives and families; for the obstacles and barriers to be removed from their relationship. To be fully restored.

Some of you have been waiting for years.

I remember the awesome feeling when our preemie granddaughter was finally strong enough to not need the incubator any longer. What a day of rejoicing that was.

But I remember even more how wonderful it was when my daughter Renee came running to my arms in the rehab center. I can still hear her voice as she whispered in my ear, “Thank you for coming! I’m so sorry for how much I hurt you, momma. I love you so much! Can you ever forgive me?”

She was finally out of God’s incubator, returned to my arms!

At that moment this Scripture verse came to my mind:

“Now to him who is ABLE to do immeasurably MORE than all we ask or imagine . . . to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever” (Ephesians 3: 20-21).


Great Physician,

Please don’t release our children from your spiritual incubator prematurely. As much as we want them with us, we want to keep them in your expert care, under your scrutiny and watchful eye until your healing, redeeming work is done! 

We beg you to show them your tender mercies in these 10 ways. Allow them to feel only as much brokenness as is necessary to bring them to their knees in humble surrender. Make them willing to turn to you in simple, childlike faith. And help us wait with faith that you are able to do far more than we could ever imagine.

We’re humbled and grateful. Amen.

**If you’d like some daily encouragement, sign up for my emails. Look for FREE subscription on the homepage here on our website. We care about you!

*Here I am with Renee and our preemie granddaughter! (this was a few years ago)

*And don’t forget, our radio program with Jim Daly and John Fuller on Focus on the Family airs today (8/21) and part 2 is tomorrow (8/22). Listen anytime on their website: focusonthefamily.com


  1. Jessica Pierce

    I saw a link to your website thru a friend on Facebook. Man am I glad that I clicked on it to see what it was about. I have an alcoholic/drug addict teenage son. He has gone thru psychiatric services, diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and is now taking meds for that. He has gone thru residential treatment and a partial hospital treatment after. He found a group close to us that was made just for clean & sober kids. He was doing so well…14 months clean & sober. And then he relapsed. I was devastated. How could he throw all that away? But it was his choice and I cannot control his choices. From the beginning of this journey with him, I have been involved in counseling and Al-anon. I have met so many great people, all suffering just like me. I have made many friends with mom who have children just like mine. We live our lives around Al-anon and know that without God, we truly would be lost souls along with our children. We all have found such a peace & serenity within our lives and have become better people, mothers, wives, sisters & daughters because of the journey we have taken & will continue to take. Sometimes when others hear of the long road I have travelled with my son, they say, “Oh my, I’m so sorry you have had to go thru that.” But I make sure to tell them, I’m not…if it were not for this path, I would not be who I am today. I have been so transformed by the 12 steps and drawing closer to my God…down to the very core of my being. And I love the new me! HOPE has become my new favorite four letter word. God’s hope that lives within me allows me to be free to live and know that one day (not sure when that will be) my son will find the peace & serenity he seeks and be free of his addictions.

    Thank you so much for being open & honest & baring your hurts & pains to bring a website like this to those of us who suffer right along with you. I will be praying for you daily as I’m sure you will for me as well.

    In His will, love & grace,
    Jessica Pierce

    • denayohe

      Thank you for your comment, Jessica! Your testimony is powerful and inspiring! How amazing that you can say with such conviction that you are not sorry this happened to you because of how it has made you who you are today! It truly is a transformational experience that draws us into a new realm with God that we would never have known otherwise. Most of the time I would not trade what I have gained, but other times I’m not so sure. I still wish none of these things ever happened to my daughter. It’s a hurt I still carry with me. Thanks for your prayers! I prayed for you and your son just now! May he find freedom in Christ from the bondage to the substances that have ensnared him once again. I pray he will not stay there long. Remember, he is not the same person he was before he went into treatment. He knows more now and it WILL make a difference! As long as he is still breathing, there is always HOPE! I love that beautiful word, too! That is also really great you found Al-Anon. My husband and I did, too, and it was very significant for us! What a great support! I can’t say enough good things about it! Keep taking One Day at a Time!
      Keep holding onto Hope!

  2. Diane Viere

    Dena! I felt peace as I read this post….peace! That’s capital PEACE!!!! My daughter is an RN in a Neonatal Unit and I can tell you–those sweet little ones in those incubators are expertly cared for…and loved! What a beautiful comparison for our prodigals. It makes the WAIT….bearable Dena!!! I will be visualizing this comparison everytime I cry out, “How long, Lord, how long?” No–I’ll be visualizing it every single day and night as I pray!!!!

    “Father, please don’t release our children too soon! As much as we want them “with us”, we want to keep them in your expert care, under your scrutiny and watchful eye until your redeeming work is done!”

    BEAUTIFUL! You have been a “living letter” today for me….Dena. For every hurting heart that reads these words–they are a message from God written directly on our hearts! THANK YOU!


    • denayohe

      Diane, I thank you for your comment! How it encourages me to know that what I wrote brought you so much PEACE. It is such an affirmation that I indeed was hearing those words from the Father. When I read that you felt this was a “living letter” to you from the Lord moves me deeply. I can only praise Him, for it is truly all from Him. I’m sure it is also your experience that as we give to others the comfort we have received it is multiplied back to us! Thank you again for telling me these things!

  3. Valerie

    Thank you for these touching words – they have helped me tremendously today as I face the anguish of having not just one but two prodigal daughters now. Bless you. At the present time, I am not posting anything about my current situation on my blog due to legal reasons – but you can always contact me via email. Thanks!

    • denayohe

      Valerie, I am so sorry for the pain you carry with not one but two prodigal daughters. Thank you for telling me my words helped you in your journey. I will email you so we can share more. Remember, you are NOT ALONE!
      “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:13)

  4. sonia

    Praying this happens for my family & my friends family. We have been in struggle with our nephew for over 16 years . Seeing him go down is the hardest ,scariest thing to feel so helpless is an awful feeling. When you think your helping them, your really not. Praying God heals him as right now he is in Gods Incubator ( jail and doing a program) .

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      I’m so sorry about our nephew, Sonia. How painful for you to watch. That feeling of helplessness is awful. Yes, there comes a time when helping isn’t really helping anymore. And yes, jail can be a very effective incubator. Many a man and woman has come out ready to start a new life. May God give you and your family strength and perseverance as you walk through this difficult time.

  5. Patti Wooten

    I heard most of your broadcast, part 2 today. I want to listen to both. It was a blessing. Thank you for sharing.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Thank you, Patti, and God bless you for making the time to say that. May He speak to your heart as you listen to both.

  6. Suzie

    What a beautiful prayer. With this image of my daughter being in an incubator I believe I can see the light! Thank you so much for what you do.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Thank you Suzie, so glad it helped!