By Clifton Angel
It happens much too
frequently. A faithful Christian father and a
faithful Christian mother agonize over a loss.
It’s not a loss of life over which they are
grieving. Instead, their distress has been brought
on by a son or a daughter who has gone into the
world of sin and turned his or her back on God.
The circumstances vary.
In some cases the child had been a faithful
Christian but has since fallen away. In other
cases the child never obeyed in the ﬁrst place and
is now hard-hearted. Regardless of the reason, the
child is a servant of Satan and Godly parents fear
for that soul.
Often the ﬁrst reaction
of a parent in this situation is to blame himself
or herself. What could have been done differently?
What wasn’t done that should have been? What was
done that should not have been? Since Proverbs
22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he
should go: and when he is old, he will not depart
from it,” the fact that the child is disobedient
to God must mean that there was parental failure,
or at least this is the conclusion to which a
parent might come. Granted there are examples of
parents who did not tend to their children’s
spiritual needs, but is a child’s unfaithfulness
always the result of errors in parenting? If it
were true that a parent’s faithfulness guarantees
faithful children, then would it not also be true
that a parent’s unfaithfulness guarantees
unfaithful children? Of course, there are several
examples of righteous men and women who grew up in
ungodly homes. Go back and read the history of the
kings of Israel and Judah in the books of Kings
and Chronicles to see some Bible examples of Godly
men whose sons turned away from the Lord as well
as ungodly men whose sons turned to the Lord.
Let’s also consider families in which there are
multiple children, some of whom are faithful and
some of whom are not. How can that be explained?
Even though the parent of an unfaithful child
deeply feels guilt over the child’s waywardness,
the fact of the matter is that the child has free
will just like the parent does. With that freedom
to choose, he or she has the freedom to make wrong
choices, one of which is disobeying God. Certainly
a parent should do some self-examination and if an
unholy example has inﬂuenced the child for evil,
then repentance should be made by that parent.
Whether or not this is the case, a frank
discussion with the child regarding the parent’s
inﬂuence over the years should be conducted.
Communication plays such
a critical role in a parent’s attempt to restore a
disobedient child. Why would a parent not lovingly
yet ﬁrmly show that child from God’s Word that he
or she is lost? Why would a parent not let that
child see and feel the hurt that he or she is
causing? When a parent is trying to bring a child
to God or back to God, it is not a time for
timidity or fear of saying the wrong thing that
might drive the child away. The child has already
left the Lord. Jude wrote, “And others save with
fear, pulling them out of the ﬁre; hating even the
garment spotted by the ﬂesh.” (Jude 23).
I invite parents to
share this article with their unfaithful children.
Hoping that will be done, I make an appeal.
Unfaithful friend, not only are you lost in your
current state of disobedience, you are also
tearing your parents up inside. They are afraid
that you will die in your lost condition. They
love God and are looking forward to being with Him
in eternity. They love you and want you in heaven
as well. Won’t you at least sit down and talk to
them about the direction you have taken in your
life? They are hurting. They are heavily burdened
by your disobedience. How much do you care about
Tonight a heart is shattered,
A face is wet with tears,
A mind is heavy laden
With worries and with fears.
Tonight a soul is praying
In sad and mournful strains.
Few tragedies on earth
Can bring such depth of pain.
“Dear God, I pray, be patient,
Longsuffering and kind.
He’s turned his heart toward sin.
Please, Lord, give him time.
“Lord, it must be my fault.
I must have erred some way.
If I’d been a better Christian
He would not have gone astray.
“Lord, I feel so helpless.
How can I bring him home?
I just can’t bear the thought
Of losing this precious soul.”
Tonight is like the last one
And all the ones to come
For the parent of a prodigal
‘Til he returns to God.
The doubts and fear and anguish
Keep weighing on the soul.
There is little rest for the parent
Whose child has left the fold.
If only sons and daughters
Who’ve chosen to depart
Could see how their unfaithfulness
Breaks a parent’s
[A Parent’s Broken Heart, by Mike Gifford
- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of
Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through
that congregation's website: