By Jessica Van Roekel, Crosswalk.com
When I was little, my screams shattered the night. Night terrors came to me, stealing my peace, waking me with terror. Fear of them would rob me of my sleep and rest on the edge of my waking hours.
Our world seems even more fear-driven than the remembrances of my childhood nightmares. The newspaper headlines scream fear.
Fear the wildfires. Fear the virus. Fear internet predators. Our children live in a world that bombards them with fear.
As parents, how do we raise faithful children in a fear-driven world?
Learning to Live Faith-Filled
Becoming a parent has taught me more about living out my Christian faith than any other time in my life.
Spiders used to terrify me. The kind of fear that issued a bloodcurdling scream from my lips as I ran away as fast as I could. Then I had a child.
I knew my fear of spiders was irrational and my response extreme. I didn’t want to pass this fear onto my child, so I exchanged squeaks for screams and aimed my weapon of choice and sprayed the thing to death. Over time and with much practice, I can grab a shoe and smash the spider without the theatrics. Most of the time.
But there’s so much more to parenting than not passing on my fears to my children.
I want them to know how to be faithful in a fear-driven society. It takes a special determination to help our kids build their lives on Jesus. He is the solid rock on which their lives will withstand fear this world creates.
Psalm 78:4 encourages us to tell the coming generation the glorious deed of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. We do this by teaching them that God is trustworthy, caring, and that nothing can separate them from God’s love. We teach them the important role obedience and praying plays in their life.
We help them face their fears with faith.
Speak God’s Truth to Any Fear
In order to face fears with faith, we must speak God’s truth to our fears.
We can’t wish our fears away or ignore them. That only makes them loom larger in our minds. We begin when we tell God our fears. Then we remind ourselves that God is trustworthy, faithful, and has not given us a spirit of fear but of a sound mind.
We turn to Philippians 4:8 for a reminder to think on things that are pure, right, lovely, admirable, noble, and praiseworthy. These words turn our minds to God and how he is light, and his ways are right. Then our mind runs over to Proverbs 3:5-6 and we lean on God’s understanding, not our own, and to trust him.
Going through this process builds our faith. As we walk through this experience, we discover 5 keys that guide us in raising our kids to be faithful in a fear-driven world.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Sasiistock
Teach Them God's Character
God is trustworthy: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock,” Isaiah 26:3-4. He never moves, never changes, is always steadfast and faithful.
God cares: “Casting all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:7. God cares for our hearts and wants us to tell him everything so that he can help us carry the burden.
God is near: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8:37-39. His love is ever-present, and no fear can separate us from his love.
God will guard us with peace in prayer: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:6-7.
Prayer is a two-way communication with God. We speak, he listens. He speaks, we listen.
We Teach Faith by Words and Actions
Just as the birth of my daughter prompted me to overcome my fear of spiders, so teaching our kids faithfulness in the face of fear helps our hearts as well.
We read the Word of God, speak God’s truth to our fears, pray, and then act like we believe God’s word to be true. Wrestling through our fleshy tendencies towards doubt and dismay is part of the building a life of faithfulness.
Let me say it again, the wrestling is where we grow.
We wrestle fear and choose trust. We wrestle anxiety and choose to cast our cares on God. We wrestle silence and choose to pour out our hearts instead so that we might know his comfort. We grow as we teach our children how to build a life of faith in a fear-driven society. We teach it.
We model it. We help our kids wrestle through it.
Hands on learning is the best kind of learning. If we only tell our kids what to do, but don’t walk them through the process they flounder on their own. If we tell our kids how to navigate fear, but see us falling victim to fear, we inadvertently tell them that God’s Word doesn’t work.
Parents, I know. It’s hard. It’s a lot of pressure and maybe you live more fear-filled than faith-filled. It’s okay. Because God can take a heart that has the “want to” and give it the “will to”. It’s called “dependence on his grace”.
It’s called learning to struggle together. Yes, we lead the way, but our kids propel us along.
In this way, we are living out this scripture: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves,” (James 1:22). When we hear, but do not practice, we miss out on seeing God move in our lives.
Tackle Every Fear with Prayer
It could be a “help me” prayer. It could be an “I don’t know what to do” kind of prayer. The most important thing is that there is communication with God.
Next, find one or two key scriptures that build faith and put them in a visible place. Then, examine how this verse or verses speaks to fear.
If the verse has a call to action, that’s an opportunity for obedience. There is power in obedience because each time we choose obedience we grow in our faith.
Finally, thank the Lord for being present and giving comfort. By taking these steps over and over again, we teach our kids how to reach for faith when they’re afraid. As they reach for faith over and over again, it builds faithfulness in their lives.
This faithfulness finds its foundation on the firm rock of Jesus Christ. This kind of faith enables us to withstand the storms that blow in and out of their lives.
I look back and laugh at my irrational fear of spiders. And I succeeded in not passing that it onto my children. They don’t scream like someone stabbed them and race from the room like I once did.
Instead, they grab the can of spray or shoe or tissue and smash it. Or they ask me to take care of it for them. We work together taking care of the business of clearing our home of spiders.
I’d like to think we’ve done that with fear too. They reach for faith when they’re afraid and we wrestle it with faith and grow more faithful together.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
Jessica Van Roekel leads worship in her local church and writes at www.welcomegrace.com. She believes that through Christ our personal histories don’t have to define our present or determine our future and writes about the transforming power of grace. Jessica lives in a rural setting surrounded by farmland and her husband and children. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.