I recall more than one stormy night when thunder and lightning catapulted our children from their beds into ours. Neither my embrace nor my husband Lee’s could stop the storm, but we helped them face their fears in the midst of it and bolstered their bravery. We whispered, “Jesus is in control. Even the wind and rain, thunder and lightning are under His command.” We also reminded Caroline, Daniel, and Harrison that all God does is for our good, and no one loves them more than our Lord. Before long, they were sleeping peacefully in our arms.
Today, all of our families are in a storm called COVID-19. This pandemic has spawned fear, anxiety, and disappointment across every age group. Loved ones have lost their lives. Going to Grandma’s house is deemed too dangerous, and play dates are now virtual. School doors have been locked, and playgrounds and parks are off limits. Spring sports have been squelched; commencement celebrations canceled; proms postponed; and even walks down the aisle waylaid. College students are introspective about internships and entering a job market that’s just plain shaky. Although “shelter in place” orders remain, we still want to take cover.
The Bible is clear that no believer in Jesus will face a crisis or encounter a need that our Heavenly Father does not stand ready to see us through. Philippians 4:19 assures, “God shall supply all [our] need[s] according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (KJV). By resisting the temptation to give into fear and, instead, choosing to place our trust in God’s perfect nature, we can use this season of uncertainty to point the hearts of those watching us toward the only Certainty in this life. The One who has their best—and ours—in mind. This global crisis, in fact, could be the very prescription needed to make our children—and perhaps even ourselves—spiritually healthier.
Here’s how we can help:
- Let’s give our girls and boys permission to cry and help moving forward. We need to be sensitive to our children’s feelings regarding not being able to hang out with friends, attend parties, participate in sporting activities, graduate with their classmates, or visit that special place we had planned to take them. Psalm 56:8 (NLT) lets us know just how precious His people’s tears are to the Lord: “You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book”; that means there is never a time in our lives when Jesus fails to see our grief and care about it. However, while a good cry can be beneficial, there is also a time to move forward. King David shows us how. Every time David put his pen to a tear-stained scroll, sincerely pouring his heart out to the Lord, he made room for praise; he recognized God’s presence and perfect provision amid his pain. Praise is a great antidote to negative feelings; it puts the focus back where it belongs.
- Let’s use quarantine to reinforce and cultivate holy habits. Interestingly, the term quarantine originates from the Italian word for “forty.” Psychologists say it takes about forty days to form a new habit. Forty is a significant number in the Bible. In Genesis 7:12, while Noah was in the ark, rain fell for forty days. Moses stayed on Mount Sinai for forty days, leaving the Hebrews at its base (Exodus 24:18). And the disciples had forty days after Jesus’ resurrection to walk alongside Him before His ascension (Acts 1:3). Every one of those instances was just long enough to help God’s followers make trusting Him a lifelong habit. It’s not by accident, then, that you and I have been afforded a similar opportunity along with our families. These last weeks have given us a chance to grow in faith as never before. Going forward, continue to make the most of the time by praying aloud together and trusting God’s Word for direction. For instance, your children may think that reading their Bibles every day is something they could never do. Get a calendar and mark off forty days together. Each day, have them read one chapter. By the time they get to day forty, personally spending time with God will be a habit.
- Let’s check where our children stand with Jesus. Our children seek our loving embraces because they know what they will find there. But only God can guarantee to “never leave” or “forsake” them (Hebrews 13:5, KJV). So, rather than making promises we may not be able to keep, let us work to build their confidence in God’s character. Make sure your child knows that friendship with God begins the moment we recognize that we cannot get through anything in life without Him. We must admit our sinfulness and believe that Jesus is God; we must acknowledge that He took the punishment for our sins on the cross; and we must celebrate that He rose from the dead three days later, proving His triumph over sin and death. Only after accepting God’s free gift of salvation are we gifted with the Holy Spirit, who enables us to grow more like Him as He helps us weather every storm we ever face.
Show your toddler, teen, or young adult how he can deal with difficult and uncertain times because our God is always with him. Remember, storms are the Lord’s specialty. He often uses tough times in our lives to develop a deeper level of trust in who He is and in what He does.
Tara McClary Reeves is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, patriot, award-winning children’s book author, speaker and passionate teacher of the joys and challenges that come with being a committed follower of Jesus Christ. She is also the author of Point Me to Jesus. Tara lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, with her husband, Lee, and their three children. She considers it a privilege to point her own children—and others—to Jesus every day.