Prayer for Prodigals 4: Hope in Hard Places

Loving a prodigal often puts us in some hard places….

This is the fourth post in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on HOPE, which is the theme of the 2016 June 2 Worldwide Prodigal Prayer Day. This letter goes to the members of the Prayer for Prodigals community, but it is true for all of us

The prophet Jeremiahat the foot of the Colonna dell’Immacolata, at the end of the Piazza di spagna, Rome (1857)

The prophet Jeremiahat the foot of the Colonna dell’Immacolata, at the end of the Piazza di spagna, Rome (1857)


Dear Lover of Prodigals,

I remember times in the principal’s office, in court, at juvenile detention, at the jail, in the emergency room, with a wrecked car.  I know you can make your own list.We have a kindred spirit in the prophet Jeremiah.Jeremiah had a challenging job.  He was repeatedly assigned to tell the children of Israel about the next dire events coming their way because of their constant sin and idolatry. His prophecies about bondage to Egypt, starvation under siege and captivity in Babylon came true.

He paid the price for all the bad news he delivered. He ended up in some hard places: imprisoned, in stocks, lowered into a well, attempts on his life. No wonder he was called the Weeping Prophet.

Jeremiah gives hope for hard places

Jeremiah wept for his people. But he also rejoiced when God asked him to pass on good news. See what God said through Jeremiah to those exiled in Babylon:

"My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.  I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart." (Jeremiah 24:6-7) 

"I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14) 

“In that day," declares the Lord Almighty, "I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. Instead, they will serve the Lord their God… So do not be afraid, Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel," declares the Lord. "I will surely save you out of a distant place…” (Jeremiah 30:8-10) 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness… I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble,… Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:3-14) 

This is what the Lord says…“Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land....Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:15- 20)

"Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me." (Jeremiah 33:6-8)

“I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God.  I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them.  I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them,… I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul….”  (Jeremiah 32:37-41) 

Surely as we who love a prodigal often find ourselves “in exile,” in hard places, in fear, in rejection, hopeless—whatever that hard places might be—we can hear God saying these same words to us.Yes, these words of hope were written to the children of Israel in their hard places.  But the promises from God that Jeremiah delivers resonate through all of Scripture with the love, mercy and grace of our Father to all of His children.I love all these evidences of God’s love and care and intentionality toward me, toward us, and I come back over and over to these words of great hope:

“I will never stop doing good to them….”

With hope,


What about you? What hard places do you need hope for?

c2016 Judy Douglass

Related post:

3 Ways for Parents of Troubled Kids to Hold on to Hope

If you would be interested in requesting prayer for a prodigal loved one, or being a part of our wonderful praying community, respond in comments or write to me at PrayerforProdigals at gmaildotcom.