Grieving the disaster


Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
- Luke 15:13

Can you imagine the pain of watching your child leave home and collapse?

Some of you don’t have to imagine. That’s your story. That’s your family story. What tremendous heartbreak the father in this story must have felt!

In society at the time most people would have stayed close to their parents even in their adult lives. Work on the family farm was good work. Employment in the family business was what was expected.

And for a young Jewish man, leaving for a distant country would have been unheard of. He lived in God’s Promised Land. The thought of living in a distant country would have filled people with fear. What will you do if things go wrong and you’re isolated from God and family?

Jesus’ audience would have known all this. They would have winced when they heard that the younger son had left home. And they would have shaken their heads at the thought of the foolish, enabling father who let his son embark on such a foolish endeavor.

We imagine that the father’s heart was full of grief and pain as he watched his youngest son leave home. This is the cost of generosity. This is the price of love.
Life is full of situations like these. We love people and yet they do foolish and self-destructive things. Our generous behaviors backfire and come back to haunt us. And we grieve.

It’s tempting here to segue into a word about boundaries and enabling. But this story isn’t the place to do it. Here, we want to give you permission to grieve.

If you have a loved one who has left home for a distant country and met disaster, grief is healthy. Before you think about blame, before you think about recovery, before you even think about how to keep this from happening again, it’s healthy to grieve.

In grief we name the disaster as a disaster. In grief we name the lost loved one as truly loved. In grief we name the path going forward as a path from sorrow toward joy, no matter how difficult it is.

Where do you need to grieve? Take your grief to the Lord today and pour it out to him. He will hear you and comfort you if you’re honest with him.



Though the parable is about that parent-child and sibling relationship, ultimately it gives insight into all relationships.

Great catch, Beth!

Wonderfully written and insightful devotion! There is application, not only for the parent whose child has gone astray, but for individuals who are unable to have a loving relationship with a parent. Praying for recovery.

Leave a Comment

Comments for this post have been disabled.