The new year is here! This year will be full of new milestones and mountain top moments for your family, but this will not be the only thing your family will experience this year. The truth is, you will also face valleys and hardships too. How you teach your children to process difficulty and face it in a way that glorifies Jesus, is one of the most important things Christian parents can teach their children. Jesus knew this! He taught his disciples, “…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33)
As Christian parents, we are doing our children a disservice if we ignore the parts of the Bible that talk about the effects of sin and the suffering of God’s people. If we only teach our kids about the blessings of the people of God, our kids will find themselves feeling hopeless and angry when they face hardship. Our children may walk through a variety of hard things this year from the seemingly small (like difficulty in school, sickness, or painful friendships) to the extremely difficult (like bullying, divorce, or dealing with death). We must be intentional to teach our kids that all of life can be lived for the glory of God, and offer them an eternal hope and strength as they face the hard things in this life.
“Is God still good when life is hard?” Everyone asks this question at some point in their lives, even young children. The Bible offers the answer. God is still good, and you can trust Him. When hard times happen in the life of your family or your kids, here are four big ideas to teach your children as you guide them.
1. Teach your children where suffering started.
Suffering started with sin. In the beginning, God created a good and perfect world. God set up his good authority, like a kind Father putting boundaries in place to protect his children. Men and women sinned, and everything in creation became broken. Our hearts and desires became broken. Death and sickness became a reality. Sad and bad things are a part of our lives, and they are sometimes senseless and unfair. Our good God did not leave us broken but put in place a rescue plan to save us from the brokenness that came with sin. Our sin separates us from God and his love, but God’s plan made a way to bring us back to him. When your children are suffering from the sin, the sad, and the bad in our world, they will want to know why. Christians know why because we know where things went wrong. By teaching your kids where it all started, we help them process senseless suffering and pain in the world, so they can hope in their Rescuer.
2. Teach your kids when suffering will end.
It’s helpful to know the why, and its hopeful to know when suffering will end!
We can have endurance and hope because we know the end of the story. The good news is that Jesus has defeated the sin, the sad, and the bad on the cross. And through his resurrection, all that he accomplished is effective for us. We currently live in the “already but not yet.” Jesus made a way for us to no longer be separated by our sin from his loving arms. We can experience that love and hope now. The day is coming when he will make all things new. The story isn’t over until Jesus comes back, and when he comes, the Bible says death will be no more. Neither will there be sadness or suffering or tears. For those who have faith in Jesus, he will make our bodies, our hearts, and our world new again. We have hope because we know how the story ends. (Revelation 21:4-5)
3. Teach your kids why Jesus suffered.
Jesus came to our harsh and dark world to be our Rescuer and Redeemer. We were all on a path to the grave. We have all failed to live perfectly. But God sent his Son into the world not to punish us, but to take our punishment (John 3:16-17). He died in our place and for our sins. He suffered in all the ways a person could suffer, and he did it because he loves us. Those who humble themselves and call on his name, have peace with God again and experience the love and hope that comes from God alone.
Jesus had the very worst done to him, so we do not have to experience a horrible ending. He rescues us from our sin, and he is our help and hope when we face hard things. We can call out to Jesus for help when we walk through hard things, and he is a very present help in time of need. (Psalm 46:1) Jesus is not a distant, unempathetic God, he understands our suffering because he walked this earth and suffered too. God hears your prayers, he responds, and he understands (Romans 5:1-5).
4. Teach your kids how to have eternal hope.
There is great hope that while we walk through hard things, God is changing our hearts. Suffering has the ability to change us from hoping in things that do not last, to putting our hope in things that are eternal. It forces us to ask ourselves if there is something more than just the present. It is easy to find hope in things that don’t last forever (i.e. toys, vacation, health, money, etc.). These things can give us a false hope because they feel good and are tangible. Even people, if made your ultimate hope, will let you down because they are imperfect.
In moments of hardship, it is important to refocus your hope towards the God who is eternal. We must model and teach our children to find hope in the God who loves them endlessly and to invest in those things we take to Heaven with us (love for God and love for our neighbors). Do you practice finding hope in God? Is your hope in the next video game or next soccer game? Or is your hope in knowing Jesus and enjoying a relationship with him (1 Peter 4:12-19)? Putting your hope and happiness in God and investing in eternal things can give your family vision and focus during every season of life.
As much as parents try to protect their children from hardship and suffering, they will face difficulty this year. Teaching our children how to process hardship from a Christian perspective helps our children not be embittered by life, but to greet hardship with a sense of hope. From the Kids Faith Krate family to your family, may you have a hopeful and Happy New Year!
-Kate and the Kids Faith Krate Team'