Guest Author: Jacqueline Dueck
My young son came home from school one day, looking very upset. He ran straight to his room, without his normal, cheery hello. After a few minutes, I went in to check on him. There he was, sobbing on his bed. He is not generally emotional, so I was somewhat alarmed. Clearly, something was very wrong.
“What’s the matter?” I asked, putting a hand on his shoulder.
“Mom, the world is ending and I’m scared!”
Oh boy. We were about to have an end times conversation. How on earth was I supposed to do this with a small child? What could I say to make him feel secure and loved? I prayed for wisdom and then opened my mouth in faith.
“What exactly are you scared of, buddy?”
“It’s gonna hurt.”
This is a legitimate fear for anyone, and especially for him. He came to Canada from Haiti and has survived earthquakes and hurricanes. Fear of natural disaster was very real for him. In his mind, God’s return would involve fire and brimstone and people dying.
“Do you trust Jesus?” I asked.
“Yeah, of course!”
“Are you going to heaven?”
“Do you think Jesus would hurt you?”
“No,” he said, looking slightly confused.
“Then what is it that you’re afraid of?”
He turned thoughtfully silent, unable to think of a single thing. I read Romans 8:28 to him.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
He seemed to relax a bit after that, remembering that God is a good, good Daddy who will take care of us even when things seem scary.
The end times conversations didn’t end there, though. Opportunities continued to come up. He’d ask questions. I’d pray for wisdom, and keep opening my mouth in faith.
“Mom, I’m scared of dying.”
Oh boy. Who isn’t afraid of death? How was I supposed to have this conversation?
After a few questions and a bit of back and forth, it became clear the part he was concerned about was Jesus coming back in our lifetime, and his experience of the time between leaving the body and arriving in heaven. The idea of a disembodied existence was disturbing to him. Once I realized what the specific fear was, I decided we needed a plan; kind of a ‘what’s going to happen between leaving your body and getting to heaven’ plan.
The plan was simple: if Jesus came back during our lifetime, he and I would bear hug all the way to heaven. As he thought about it, he was comforted. He wouldn’t be alone. He would be held and hugged and safe in my arms all the way.
I was comforted by that image too, remembering that it’s just how God loves us. We are always safe and protected in His arms. A favorite verse of mine is Psalms 91:4, which says something along those lines, “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” I encouraged my son to meditate on that verse, remembering Jesus as a safe place to hide any time.
Then there was the conversation about terrorism.
“Mom, why do bad guys want to blow up everybody?”
Oh boy. Another conversation I didn’t know how to have. Despite our efforts to keep news and media out of our home, it’s everywhere. In the schoolyard and in conversations with others, he was hearing some pretty scary stuff. Again, I prayed for wisdom and started talking.
“You know, buddy, bad guys and terrorists are like bullies.” The concept of bullies was easier to understand. Eventually, I got around to saying something like, “and the ultimate bad guy is really Satan.”
We talked about how bullies have power only when we give them power. If we act scared and don’t do great stuff because we are too paralyzed with fear to move, then the bully wins. Bullies lose their power when we are brave and stand up to them. He continued listening intently.
“Remember in the book of Joshua, God told the people to be brave? Joshua 1:9 says, “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
We are to be brave and fight not like the world fights but the way Jesus wants us to fight. Fight with love. Fight to tell more people about Him. This is what we need to focus on.
“The more we do what Jesus wants us to do, the more He wins and Satan loses.”
“What?!” his mouth dropped open in shock. He was ticked that Satan had tricked him into being scared.
“I’m not going to be scared and let him win!” he declared, fixing his hands on his hips. He resolved to be brave and fight against Satan and bad guys.
As parents, we have the amazing privilege of guiding our children through so many important issues. Some of the things that have helped me keep communication open and have challenging conversations effectively include:
* Asking questions about them and staying interested in who they are and what they’re doing.
* Asking older siblings to limit what they say in front of younger siblings who might not be ready to deal with their more mature questions.
* Limiting my own conversation and media consumption so that it doesn’t negatively influence my family.
* Growing personally in a relationship with Jesus; meditating on His word and bringing Him into our daily life.
* And running to God with hands open, asking for wisdom.
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