There are somethings that a mother’s heart is never truly prepared to talk to their children about. I realized that this past weekend as I struggled with sharing with my children about a dangerous situation that occurred in the exact area of the world that we are heading to in a matter of weeks. I didn’t know if I should share, or how much to share, or even how to begin sharing.
As with every big event that occurs in our life, Paul happened to be out of town the entirety of this time and while I had his support, he was taken up with his own serious work.
At first I determined to not tell our children about it until the situation was resolved, so that they could see the whole story and the goodness of God manifested in a resolution.
But then that began to weigh on me as the days passed and I realized that the goodness of God exists even when we cannot see the good ourselves.
And so Paul gently encouraged me to tell the boys about the situation, while yet unresolved. He encouraged me greatly with his reminder that the boys will only fear if I present it to them as a fear. Whereas if I present it as coming from a place of trust in the Lord, despite not knowing how it will play out, they would be just fine and they could see how we trust the Lord through hard situations even when we don’t know what will happen.
So I sat down with my boys and told them about the kidnapping of their “uncle” (my cousin) and told them how I had wanted to protect them from the details of that but had realized how silly that was because they were faithful prayer warriors themselves and this was a battle they could participate in on a spiritual front. They asked a couple questions and prayed, and said they would pray as they thought of through the day, and then moved on – unphased.
A little later while we were out and about running errands one of them asked me if they were kidnapped when we are over there what would we, as their parents, do about it?
This innocent question of his has brought me to tears over and over again as I think about the answer we, as their parents, want to be anchored deep in the souls of our children.
Three Things We Want Our Children to Know About Suffering in Isolation
- Remember what you have been taught. If you find yourself alone in a frightful situation, think about the goodness of God, the faithfulness of God, and the promises of God. Remember the stories He has recorded in His word for us. The story of Daniel being thrown into the lions den. The story of the three men being tossed into the fiery furnace. Joseph being betrayed by his brothers. The sufferings of Paul. Remember the verses where He promises; “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Remember our perfect Savior who submitted Himself to a death on the cross who can sympathize with our weakness and our suffering. Remember a Savior who loves us. Remember the Bible stories and the missionary stories of those who counted the cost and chose to follow Christ. Recite the verses. Sing the hymns. Talk to yourself, do not allow yourself to talk to you.
- Make no allowance for fear. While it is natural and easy and even completely understandable to be fearful, do not let that fear rule you and actively work to put those fears to rest. A focus on self will lead to fear. “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) If you find yourself alone in a frightful situation, do not give in to thoughts of self-worry, self-concern, and self-preservation as that will only open wide the door to fear. Our battle is not in flesh and blood and the things that you can see do not tell the whole story. Allow Christ to be your strength and you will never be too weak for the task that is before you.
- Keep eternity in mind. There is more to this life than we can fully comprehend and the end of this life is the beginning of eternity. The end of this life brings an eternity with our precious Savior. That is a joyful thought for you in a frightful situation and one to cling tightly to. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are not promised a life free from suffering here on this earth. But we are promised His constant presence and a future eternity that is free of pain and suffering.
Those three points have been discussed with them throughout their childhood as they have been key truths we as their parents have come to recognize in our own feelings of isolation and loneliness, and even our own perceived ideas of suffering. But they came the central focus of our response to how, very specifically, they would deal with a situation if they found themselves kidnapped.
I want to note emphatically that we do not believe this to be a danger in us going. There is no reason to believe this will be a repeated incident and we feel confident in the Lord opening – and keeping open – the door for us to go. But because this has occurred it has opened up the door for the conversation specifically about kidnapping.
But the answer applies far wider than simply a kidnapping scenario. How often do we find ourselves feeling alone and isolated? How often do we feel like we are suffering? These are feelings that happen to all of us and if we don’t allow them to push us closer to the cross, closer to Christ, then they will push us away from Him.
By equipping our children today with the truths of Christ and His word we will be preparing them for the challenges they will face tomorrow, and refreshing our own hearts with the precious truths we hold so dear.