When our children hurt, we hurt with them as moms and dads. Nothing is more painful than watching our children struggle in the wasteland of life. Feeling lost, anxious, and alone, they become caught in sin and desperate to find their way in this world. As parents, we cry–we lament–for our kids.
These days we’re more connected than ever before and yet isolated from each other at the same time. Kids feel pressure to live up to the false self they’ve created on social media, and they fear face-to-face relationships. In a world where school shootings have become a regular occurrence, teen suicide is increasing at double-digit rates, and addiction is rampant, the news is rarely good. Perhaps our kids are finding it safer to just stay inside, connecting to the world from devices or numbing themselves with video games and entertainment.
How do I pray for my children in pain? How can they be found when they have lost their way? With so much coming at them, the needs are overwhelming. I’ve talked to too many parents who ache for their kids to find peace, healing, saving faith, and direction.
In the middle of these deep questions and struggles, I find comfort from an unlikely source—the book of Lamentations in the Bible.
Lamentations was written by Jeremiah, the “Weeping Prophet.” God gave him the tough assignment of calling God’s rebellious people away from their idols and back into obedience and worship of God. That’s a similar calling for us as parents, as we love our kids and encourage them to turn from darkness to the light of Jesus.
One of the most painful aspects of Jeremiah’s ministry was found in God’s warning that “they will fight against you.” (Jer. 1:19) We can feel the same as parents when our kids are so deep in their own mess, they don’t care what we say. We feel set up to fail as our wisdom and help fall on deaf ears.
The book of Lamentations finds Jeremiah weeping over a broken-down city after it was destroyed. God’s people were taken captive by their enemies, just as God had said would happen. Jeremiah is “lamenting” –weeping with great sorrow–over the city and the destructive consequences of the people’s idolatry. Have you felt like this grieving prophet when you pray for the heart and needs of your broken, hurting child? Jeremiah prays for his ‘children’, just like we do:
- He asks God to “restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!” (Lam. 5:22) We, too, are eager for our children to believe in Jesus and be made whole.
- He pleads for comfort for his own pain: “Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow…” (Lam. 1:12) We call on a God who understands our suffering as our kids struggle and fight.
- He begs for deliverance from their enemies, since “my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed.” (Lam. 1:16) We recognize how the lies of the enemy and the temptations of the world drag our kids into sin and self-destruction. We feel desperate for them to find freedom.
- He declares faith and hope through it all, believing, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.” (Lam. 3:22, 25) We hang on to trust in a God whose love can heal, rescue, and bring limitless joy to our family.
How do we respond when our kids are lost? Broken? Suffering? We cry out in prayer to the One who makes all things possible:
You see our distress for our children. They’re caught in sin. They’re wounded and afraid. Lead them to trust you and turn to you for life.
I believe that because of your great love, my children will not be consumed. Your compassions never fail and your faithfulness is great. You are more than enough for both me and my children, no matter what we need.
Give me strength to wait for your salvation. You won’t cast off my child forever. Even though the world, the enemy, and their own sinful desires rage against them now, you bring deliverance. You’re able to restore my children’s hearts and heal our family.
Help me find courage to continue loving and praying for my kids. Make me faithful until the day you complete your work and bring us safely home.
To go deeper in prayer, go to the book of Lamentations. Let Jeremiah’s words become your own as you lift up your children to God.
Here at Growing Home Together, we invite you to share your family’s prayer requests with us. If you’re lamenting your child’s struggles and pain, we’d love to pray for you.
I just finished a study of Lamentations. So appreciated your use of that prayer to remind us to pray for our children.
I’m glad it spoke to you, Karen! It’s beautiful how God infuses hope and mercy into the most sad, desperate situation we might find ourselves in. I’d love to hear what God gave you in the book of Lamentations sometime.