Let’s check the top 3 headlines from Sunday morning (I personally like the BBC so that’s where I’m going.)
Yah for us.
Of course, to be fair there are plenty of foofy stupid news stories out there too, and entertainment and sports to keep our minds off the real threats in the world. But let’s be honest, when you open that news app and see that the only reason the world isn’t totally on fire is that in some parts it’s flooding… well that’s a scary world. It’s scary for adults, let alone our kids! Add to that the microcosm of our kids’ fear-filled lives (walking to school, instability at home, friendless recesses) and we have kids who are being primed to buy into our doomsday culture.
Is this the life that Jesus has invited us into? Jesus came to give us life (John 10:10). Of course, when He declared we could have an abundant life he was comparing it to what the “thief” is intent on doing… stealing, killing and destroying. But didn’t Jesus tell us in John 16:33 that we could have peace in Him because He has overcome the world? Well yes, but He first observed that there was trouble brewing! It’s like, even in the Bible whenever there is good news, it’s because there is a bad news situation.
And that’s the point.
The bad news is unbearable without a rock-solid Savior to stand with us in it. And like Peter on the water, we need to train our children to resolutely keep their eyes fixed on Jesus. Here are four ways to help them.
One: Teach them gratitude
Today is Thanksgiving (at least for us Canadians who are always a few steps ahead of our friends to the south. I’m just kidding!) I can assure you nothing changes one’s perspective faster or better than focusing on the many things that are lovely in the world. Gratitude trains the heart to be optimistic, not because mankind is so great (like many suggest today), but because God is great; and He’s got a plan.
Romans 12:2 (HCSB) says, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” I would say that teaching our kids to live with steadfast faith in God, would be a non-conformist position. And then Philippians 4:6-7 (HCSB) tells us, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Peace! It comes from bringing our requests to God with thanksgiving! Brilliant!
Two: Answer their questions
I’ve written and taught extensively on this. If you want a kid to have courage, give him real answers to their questions. They need to know that God is real, even when it doesn’t feel like God is real.
Three: Teach them to hear God’s voice
We have also written and taught extensively on this! But I simply don’t know how you can have courage in the middle of a war if you can’t hear your Commanding Officer! Nothing brings more confident courage than knowing your leader has things moving toward victory.
Like a mother’s soft whisper into her infant’s troubled sleep brings peace, so the voice of God whispered in our troubled hearts bring peace.
And the great thing is that as we hear God’s voice and experience His peace, stillness enters our hearts and the knowledge of His presence sets in (Ps 46:10). An essential piece to experiencing the presence of God is to learn to quiet our own hearts, and that does take work, but peace leads to peace and that is an incredible thing.
Four: Demonstrate courage
My friend, Pastor Dietrich Demarrais, once told me about a man who was reportedly coming to kill him. The police caught this troubled soul before he reached Dietrich’s church, but I won’t forget what Dietrich told me that day, “You don’t know what God means when He says to love your enemies until you have enemies to love.”
“In this life, you will have trouble…” (Jn 16:33)
“Don’t be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the man who carries out an evil plan” (Ps 37:7)
“The Lord is a refuge in a day of trouble…” (Ps 9:9)
We must stand resolute in our conviction that God will win the day if we want our children to find their courage. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is facing our fears with confidence that God means what He says! I learned this year that I must never fear a lie. When lies begin to circulate, there is often little recourse other than running to God. He knows that I have lived with integrity in my home to the best of my ability, and I refuse to fear any lies leveled at me. I’ve spoken to my children about that, and they will grow in courage as a result.
Praying that our kids become courageous isn’t enough; we have to help them to find their courage, and that happens when they learn to trust Jesus. What if Jesus was hidden in the headlines? I believe He is, and He is forever at work turning evil into good.