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Hey there, I'm Sunny Shell, a wretch saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ the Lord. I'm married to the most incredible man on earth, who loves Jesus more than he loves me, and we have two precious adult sons.

The compassionately endures me through my metabolic disease (since 2004) that enables me to be more prayerful and careful about commitments I make and helps me to make the best use of my short time here on earth.

If you want to know more about me, click HERE.

Suffering Well With Your Prodigal


prodigal (ˈprä-di-gəl) adj 1: exceedingly or recklessly wasteful.

Before I share where our youngest son, our prodigal is today, I want you to join me as I remember where we've been; soberly view where we are now; and with great hope, share where we're headed.

From the day we found out God blessed us with each son; beautiful gifts of life growing inside of me, we sang songs of worship and read Scriptures to our boys so their lives (as much as it was up to us) would be saturated with God's grace, peace and love.

Every moment was beautiful, even the hard moments when we nearly lost both of them. Our oldest son was born with a rare condition called pyloric stenosis. If this developed, it usually happened two months after birth, but Michael was born with it; so by the time he was only two weeks old, he required emergency surgery so he wouldn't die from starvation. He's now a very healthy and robust 21 year old young man and we are grateful to the Lord!

At two months of age, it was discovered that our youngest son had a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that would open during digestion; causing excessive vomiting. Pyloric spasms aggravated the issue and intensified the vomiting (about 180 times during the daytime hours and 198 times during the nighttime hours). Surgery was highly recommended, but it was a surgery that would adversely affect the rest of his life. So after much prayer, Jim and I consulted with our wonderful pediatrician God blessed us with, who agreed there were home remedies (along with strong prescription medications necessary to strengthen Kevin's LES) we could implement.

It was a tough three years, but we got through what we thought and hoped would be the worst years of his life. But one night, while Jim and I were out celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary (a week after Kevin's sixth birthday) we were called by paramedics who informed us that our precious son was hit by a car. We met them at the hospital and later discovered he had a two inch break in his skull and needed to be taken to Children's Medical Center to be seen by pediatric neurosurgeons.

Due to his difficult infant years and near fatal car accident, I was compelled to be more careful with Kevin and keenly sensitive to him being injured in any way. I didn't want anyone to hurt him physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. I felt he had enough pain and I just wanted him to enjoy the life God gave him. But I think I wanted this too much at times. So much so, I let things go with him, things I never allowed Michael to be excused from. I may have been too lenient with Kevin. I don't know.

Has my son walked away from the Gospel-centered teaching he was raised with, only to entertain the deceptive idea that he in fact is in God's will simply because he's happy? Did I do that? Did I cause that? Is he a false convert and is this all my fault?

At one point I determined the answer was "Yes." it was all my fault. Had I been a better mother...had I not been so lazy...had I taken every opportunity to teach him more accurately about God, then he would have never chosen the life he's living right now—rash, reckless and wasteful—squandering the lavish gifts in Christ he's received from the Lord through his family and multitudes of Christians throughout his life.

He's been gone for a little over a week now. During the first week, I was engulfed with guilt over all my short-comings as a mother. I spent many days and sleepless nights weeping like I've never wept before and praying until I had no prayers left. I repented over and over again for all the times I could remember where I should've been more patient, kind, gracious, less offended, more wise...and the list goes on. I was convinced our precious son turned away from God's sound teachings and wonderfully wise and good Word because I was a complete failure as a mother.

Then my husband reminded me of God's Word in Exodus 32:30-35, 33:19, Jeremiah 17:9-10 and Psalm 115:3. He rightly encouraged me to remember who God is—sovereign, good and loving. And he exhorted me to trust the Lord with my son, all that's happened in the past, all that's happening now and all that will happen in the future. He reminded me that Kevin is responsible for his own choices...not us. He also reminded me that though he and I we didn't grow up in Christian homes (as I shared in my previous article) by God's grace, we were able to make wise choices.

"Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The unfolding of Your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple...I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."
~Psalm 119:129-130, 121:1-2

God never promised we wouldn't suffer in this world. As a matter of fact, Jesus said just the opposite in John 16:33. But the promise is that He has overcome the deadly sting of all our pains; therefore in Him, we too have overcome them and can suffer them well (2 Cor 4:16-18).

So how can I suffer well with my prodigal son, my precious babe from my womb whom I love more than my own life and would give it in an instant if it would solve all his problems?

I can suffer well with my son by:

  • Keeping my marriage covenant rather than allowing this adversity to divide me and my husband with the blame game, or silently suffering alone (which, being an introvert, I'm very inclined to do).
  • Listening to my husband's wise counsel rather than shrug it off as just some "nice" things he's saying to cheer me up and help me "move on".
  • Still loving him God's way, found in God's Word, rather than compromising and loving him as the world and he would like me to, that is, to condone everything he says or does for the sake of false peace.
  • Remaining steadfast in God's Word so if he returns, I can hold him up, if he can't stand.
  • Praying for him and not against him.
  • Being true to who I am in Christ, weeping when necessary, rejoicing as it comes and never putting on a show just so others will think well of me.
  • Reminding him he is loved and always welcome home...with any means God's provides...perhaps even with this article.

When Kevin was seriously injured after his car accident, my husband was hurriedly driving and said, "I'll drive, while you pray." I was in shock and my mind was blank after getting off the phone with the paramedics so I didn't know what to pray. Then I recalled God's Word in Romans 8:26 and I thanked Him for His Spirit's intercession on our son's behalf. Immediately after I gave thanks, the Lord reminded me of a passage I read almost exactly two years prior to this incident: Psalm 126:5-6. And this is the prayer that gave me hope then, and even now as I strive to suffer well with my precious prodigal son.

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing sheaves with him."
~Psalm 126:5-6

I pray my precious son Kevin will be included in the sheaves I get to bring with me when Christ returns or calls me Home.

If you're reading this son, the door is open.

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"If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him." ~ C.T. Studd
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