This season of life dealing with the coronavirus reminds me a lot of the Israelites wandering in the desert after escaping Egypt. Okay, well we don’t have it THAT bad; at least we still have our air conditioned homes and can run to the grocery store when we need to, provided we have a mask. But doesn’t it often feel like we are wandering from place to place unsure when we will return to normal life? Having read through Exodus, the thing that strikes me the most about the story is how much the Israelites grumbled and complained throughout their time in the desert. Yet when we get to the end of the story and the next generation has grown up, there are only two young men, Joshua and Caleb, who seem to be seeing things from God’s perspective. I wonder if those two boys had parents and maybe even grandparents who were using their trials as opportunities to teach them to be more like God and to see things from His perspective.
“But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening- it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Hebrews 12:10b-11
So we have a choice to make as parents. We can become anxious and complain like the Israelites and set an example of fear and frustration in response to the trials God wants to use to make us more like Him. Or we can discover what God wants to teach us and our children through these trials and focus on becoming more like Christ.
Six Truths to Teach our Kids Plus Free Family Devotional Below:
1. Surrender OUR plans and trust in GOD’S plans.
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
This is one of my favorite verses, and I often speak the words (tweaked a bit) out loud in front of my kids: “Many are the plans in Mommy’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I have had to remind myself of this many times throughout this whole season, from cancelled youth camps, postponed ministry opportunities with our nonprofit, and a forgotten couples trip previously scheduled for our anniversary…I am sure you can relate. But when we take the time in these situations to remind our kids that it is better to follow God’s way than our own way, they will learn with us to surrender their lives and their own desires in exchange for the Lord’s plan for them. When God allows trials in our lives, we can trust that He is still good and in control and promises to help us through them. What a difficult but important truth to learn!
2. Walk in Faith and Not Fear
“Be strong and brave, do not be afraid, for God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Fear has also been a pandemic right now. I have heard so many moms say they have to stop watching the news because it makes them anxious. If we are around the news or social media too much, it can cause our hearts to become anxious about all the problems going on in our world. But if we focus on God’s Word and listen to the truth He wants to speak to our hearts, He will give us faith to walk forward in whatever plans He has for us. Our children desperately need to know how to walk forward in faith (with wisdom of course) and not fear. There will surely be other trials to come in this life, and if they learn to walk in faith during this one, they will be more equipped for the next ones.
3. Give thanks in all circumstances.
“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Most of us can think of those “Romans 8:28” moments that we can thank God for during this time of COVID and share those with our kids. For example, we can thank God for the extra time of rest and to do things as a family. With no more extra activities, shopping, entertainment, ministry, and travel, we have more time to spend with our family and with God. We can recount these “good things” that have come from the coronavirus and thank God for them! Our children will learn how to give thanks in all circumstances ( 1 Thes 5:18)
4. Be Patient in God’s Timing.
“Be patient in affliction…” Romans 12:12
I believe God is really working on this character trait with a lot of us during this time. Sometimes I feel like an overactive dog being pulled back by his owner’s leash because there is so much I want to do that I just can’t do right now. Our kids, too, may feel ready to have more playdates, get back to the extracurricular activities they love, or see their friends at school. We can remind our kids that God is teaching us patience, to wait for His timing because it is perfect, and to find other things we can do with our time while we are waiting to go back to normal life.
5. Be Considerate of Others
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil 2:4)
Our kids have to learn to think about others, not just themselves, during this time. When we explain to them why it is so important to social distance and wear a mask, or why they can’t go back to school, it’s not just for ourselves, but to protect others who could become deathly sick if they got the virus. They are learning to respect others and have an others-focused mentality, a rare find in today’s culture.
6. Have an Eternal Perspective
“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:17
When things like this pandemic happen, it is a reminder to all of us as to what and for whom we are living. When the things we love and prioritize are stripped away, such as our kids’ sports, vacations, and even school, we realize that what really matters in life is loving God and sharing His love with others. We can encourage our kids to understand this perspective and find ways to make a difference for God during the coronavirus. Pray and ask God to show you ways your family can keep an eternal perspective and focus on things that are most important in life- like prayer and sharing His love with a hurting world.
Although this is a difficult season, we have an incredible opportunity to be a positive influence in our children’s lives. They are watching how we react and what we do and say in response to COVID, and they will follow suit. We can influence them to be like the Israelite children who were complaining and afraid to go into the promised land that God provided, or we can encourage them to be like Joshua and Caleb who had their eyes set on the Lord, seeing things through His perspective and not the world’s.
Let’s be about raising Joshuas and Calebs…