First, as a parent of three, I want to start by confessing that lately I have been at times confused, weary, even felt moments of hopelessness and anxiety for our future in this country. Let your kids see you emotionally moved by the suffering, unrest, and social issues but let them see it move you to all your knees in prayer as a family. Where we look for hope, where we run for rest, where we look for help reveals where our heart is centered. These are pivotal times in the life of our families and us as parents are poised to set a trajectory for the future and influence our children’s understanding of how to respond biblically in unprecedented uncertainty. This is not a time to be passive or to let current events or political views skew your deepest convictions.
It is a time where the internal peace of Christ stands in profound contrast to the external chaos.
Lately, I think it has dawned on most of us that we are not just experiencing a health pandemic but a social one as well. There is certainly some good coming from the rising voices of the abused and the oppressed being heard. There is wisdom in waking up to the reality of our vulnerability to health, social, and economic threats globally. We clearly need policies changed to bring more justice and equity. But not all is good when current threats or victimization narratives cause us to react emotionally or respond impulsively. Moments of confusion, anger, or dread are understandable but should not characterize the response of a believer.
How are we to make sense of all that is happening around us?
There are now so many worldviews bombarding us that truth is now often defined by personal agenda. You see it in social media, the way students are taught in public schools, and how most reporters have lost all objectivity. Even more formative is our family of origin, our ethnicity, our experiences in life which all shape the lens by which we view the world. But for believers, something should happen at conversion that radically takes precedence over all that.
The gospel changes everything. We see things anew, with new eyes (2 Cor 5:16-17). God speaks through His word even today and everything in the life of a believer is influenced by the gospel narrative. In fact, we must fight to not let anything distort our lens from staying focused on Christ (Isa 26:3), being informed by Scripture, and being led by the Spirit as we practically apply what we believe. Right now, the waves of uncertainty would make it so easy to be like the apostle Peter. His fear caused him to sink until he refocused on Christ (Matt 14:30-31), and we will sink unless we keep our focus on Christ.
There is growing unrest, insecurity, and anger in our culture. Helping your kids to make sense of the world right now is worth the investment of time. We are part of a fallen creation, a broken world, and we have hearts that must be guarded. Too much time in front of a screen and you can so easily feel so overwhelmed. Let the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4) whisper to you that you need to take care of “number 1” and you can begin to make decisions that grieve or quench the Holy Spirit. There has never been a more important time to stay in the Word, pray in the Spirit, and fix your eyes on Christ than now. Wisdom literature like the Psalms let us eavesdrop on how many spiritual leaders of that day dealt with both personal and societal crises. The psalmists were raw, and real but focused on crying out, lamenting, or complaining to the one who could truly rescue, redeem, and restore. As parents, we need to look up and settle down before we speak up.
How do we reconcile such pain, sickness, evil, and death? How do we respond to the injustice, prejudice, anger, and violence erupting so close to home? It is not that these are all new issues but for some, this is the first time they have felt it so personally. These are defining moments in our lives, our culture and in our faith families. So how do we live out the gospel and a biblical worldview in these tumultuous times? I want to offer 3 ways to be at peace and bring the peace of the gospel to your family and ultimately to a desperate world.
- Remember peace is in a person (Isa 26:3)
We are at war with an invisible enemy, at war between political parties, at war in our streets, which almost makes us forget the real war is within. If you want to start a revolution (and for Christians that means a revival) it has to start within your own soul. Is your mind set on Christ?
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isa 26:3)
We have a tendency to overprotect our children from the suffering, the injustice, or the unrest around us. In fact, we should help them to anchor themselves in the gospel and then lead them in prayer, to comfort others, to point others to the gospel! How many of us have had to console a spouse, a child, or a friend who missed a graduation, wedding, or funeral due to social distancing, shelter at home, or a financial shortfall? That same compassion should be passed on (2 Cor 1:3-5). Are you reaching out to your African American friends letting them know you hear them; love them, and pointing them to true peace? We are called to comfort others and be ambassadors of reconciliation, but we would be deeply remiss if we just try to bring horizontal reconciliation (2 Cor 5:20). Comfort is temporary, and peace between us is not sustainable unless Christ is the source. When you talk to your family, your loved ones help them see that the most significant issue is not threats to our health, social justice, or our physical safety. The ultimate threat is sin working in a fallen world and in our own hearts. God hates death, prejudice and pride-filled privilege, but it is the fruit, not the root of what is tearing apart our country. Let this time expose and idols, reset your heart, and fix your eyes on the only true peace, Jesus Christ. Teach your children to renew their minds in God’s word, fix their eye on Christ, and to demonstrate their absolute trust in God as a witness to the world.
- Go to Christ for soul rest (Matt 11:28-30)
This season has brought great weariness to our souls. Are you tired and burdened? Have you experienced how hope deferred makes the heart sick (Prov 13:12a)? The low-grade anxiety, the constant news cycle, the heightened cultural tension has diverted our attention and sapped our strength. There is no lasting benefit to binging on a Netflix series, taking an extended vacation, or even sleeping in. It’s not just the body that is exhausted, and the mind does not need another distraction. What we desperately need is rest for our souls (Matt 11:28-30). That rest is where we meet Christ in the chaos, but you have to take Him up on His invitation.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
What a huge opportunity to take your family to the well of living water. If you have not been there in a while go now. Rest in His sovereign grace. Rest in the fact He is not done with us. Rest in the eternal glory that awaits us. And help your kids to see you at rest.
- Pray through the Psalms (Psalm 32:6-7)
Do you have trouble knowing how to pray in these times? If you want to experience peace try praying through a Psalm that expresses your soul’s cry. Receive the comfort that only comes through communion with Christ. Then lead your family through a devotional that brings comfort help and hope (Psm 121). If you sense a block in communing with Christ, remember asking God’s forgiveness for our transgressions is often needed before fellowship with God is sweet. In Psalm 32 King David, confesses sin to God and then offers this admonition:
“Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah”
Pray for your community, your country, and our world. I was recently in Psalm 37. It is what I needed to hear and what our country needs to hear! Here is how I prayed. I started with “God I will be still before you, I will wait patiently for you, I will not fret…”, you get the idea.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land” (vs 7-9).
Has there ever been a better time to lament, to cry out, to confess? Teach your kids this forgotten practice of praying through the Psalms out loud. If we don’t help our people groan with all creation (Rom 8:23), they will likely be tempted to fret and complain like those wandering in the desert (Numbers 11: 1-3).
Remind your family that Christ’s peace is not what the world is offering by trying to put a Band-Aid on a gaping wound (John 14:27). Soul rest is not going to be found in wishing for things to go back to normal. Making sense of this chaos will not happen by sharing your opinion or complaining to others. The dread, the confusion, the low-grade angst that is gripping most of us is quelled by expressing our confusion, frustrations, and fears directly to the Lord like a modern-day psalmist (Psalm 40:1-3).
Questions to consider:
Have you been looking for peace in something or someone other than Christ?
Why is rest elusive for so many in this time of chaos?
Which Psalm meets you where you are at emotionally? Pray through it and help your family find a Psalm and do the same.