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I recently had the opportunity to interview Shonda Whitworth on “Your Hope-Filled Perspective,” episode Hope for Parents of Incarcerated Children – Episode 48. Shonda shared about a life experience that no parent expects to find themselves in, but when they do, they are left trying to figure out how to cope and how to hold onto hope. Her story is compelling and encouraging, so I hope you’ll take the time to listen to encourage your own heart, especially if you have felt bound by your life situations. I invited Shonda to share a bit more with us here.
Read to the end for a book giveaway!
Life as a Mother of a Convicted Felon: From Shattered Hope to Confident Hope
by Shonda Whitworth
Many of us desire to have pleasant lives with little difficulties or challenges. We may even create movies in our minds of how we imagine our lives unfolding. Having dreams and visions for our lives is scriptural.
But what do we do when aspirations fail and our hope shatters?
I never imagined I would be the mother of a convicted felon. My husband and I dedicated our sons to the Lord at an early age and we taught them to live in relationship with the Lord.
Raised in a loving, Christian home
As a young mother, I signed up for all the parenting courses our church offered. I gleaned from parents who were a few stages ahead of me and watched their children do well in school, proceed to earn college degrees, find gainful employment, marry godly spouses, and start their own families.
Following the examples modeled for me, I made my “raise up successful children” checklist, such as:
- Christian education
- Regular church attendance
- Sports activities
- Family vacations
I anticipated the same outcome I witnessed over and over again. After all, I stood on the promise of God that as a parent if I train them up in His ways, then they will never depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).
Yet, after my older son, Stephen, graduated from high school, he went to work and moved into his own apartment. His circle of friends caused concern. When I shared this with godly parents, they encouraged me not to worry as young adults go through a phase. “It will be alright,” they said. So, my vision for my son’s future started veering off its course.
The call that changed our lives
Then one night we received the call that shattered my hopes for my son’s future. He was arrested and charged with serious crimes. I could not comprehend how my son could go from being raised in a loving Christian home to being accused of such heinous acts.
Because I had been walking with the Lord for some time and attended church on a regular basis, one particular Scripture came immediately to my thoughts at the time of the call …
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 KJV).
I wrote the Scripture on a piece of paper and turned it into my prayer. With such a daunting circumstance, only God could take my shattered hope and somehow turn it around.
Longing for hope
In the darkness that enveloped my life after my son’s conviction and sentencing to prison, I longed for a ray of hope. So, every day I read the Bible determined to receive an encouraging word from the Lord. In my seeking, familiar passages became alive to my situation.
I noticed the Bible is filled with testimony of people our present society would label as thugs and outcasts. Many biblical heroes started out as scoundrels. But the Lord took the messed-up lives of liars, cheaters, adulterers, thieves, murderers, womanizers, prostitutes, and prisoners who humbled themselves and redeemed their lives.
Finding confident hope
Hope in God and what He can do filled the broken places in my heart. With a renewed sense of hope sparked inside of me for my son’s future, my confidence in God’s Word increased.
Not only is the Bible full of testimony of the redeemed, but it contains judicial themes. With a renewed sense of hope, I started making appeals to the courtroom of heaven to plead for mercy. How do we find mercy in the courtroom of heaven? We admit our guilt and ask for mercy.
Hebrews 4:16 says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (NLT).
Through searching Scriptures and making my appeals into the courtroom of heaven, God’s mercy manifested by taking my shattered dreams for my son’s life and filling me with confident hope for his future.
If the life you imagined has been demolished by unexpected circumstances, take your shattered hope to God, the source of hope, and receive confident hope for your future.
How do you maintain your hope during life’s most difficult and surprising circumstances?
Recommended Resources for Parents of Incarcerated Loved Ones:
- Appeal to the Courtroom of Heaven by Shonda Whitworth
- A free downloadable PDF of 8 Prayers to Pray for Your Incarcerated Loved One is available at FortressofHopeMinistries.com
About Shonda Whitworth:
Shonda Whitworth writes, teaches, and speaks at conferences and retreats to share the hope of healing and restoration we have in Jesus. After her son landed in state prison, she realized the hardships families of prisoners encounter. She and her husband, Eldon, founded Fortress of Hope Ministries, a nonprofit organization that offers hope to families affected by incarceration. Shonda transparently shares her testimony of living with a son in prison at ShondaWhitworth.com and FortressofHopeMinistries.com.
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview, Hope for Parents of Incarcerated Children – Episode 48, Shonda Whitworth is giving away a free copy of her book, Appeal to the Courtroom of Heaven: Petitions for Prisoners and Prison Families.
Leave a comment below sharing with us one thing you’ve learned about finding confident hope when facing the most difficult and surprising circumstances.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.
The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, March 23, 2019. Continental United States only.