It is no secret that we live in an increasingly stress-filled society. According to recent reports, the American suicide rate has increased to the highest levels since World War II. Anxiety and depression have also steadily invaded even the safe-haven of childhood.
In 2020, children are growing up under the cloud of broken marriages, the economic strain of historic rates of household debt and the ever-present pitfalls of comparing themselves to the false images they see on social media. These challenges alone take untold effects on their psyches.
So how then, do we as parents calm our children’s anxious thoughts?
While there are clinical forms of anxiety that need and should be approached with professional intervention, perhaps we can aid our children in their apprehensive moments with scriptures that address these very scenarios.
We can encourage them to:
The Apostle Paul writes to the Christians living in Philippi to “be anxious for nothing but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
The Roman government and Jewish establishment were determined to eradicate the movement of the early Christian church. Their lives were at stake and yet, God offered them a peace that went beyond what they could understand.
This gift of His presence superseded any military strategy. He was enough for them and remains enough for our families. Learning how to “be” requires a trust of His goodness and faithfulness that we can’t always immediately see. Painting a picture for our children of a God who is very much alive and working on their behalf will reassure them that they are never alone.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” – I Peter 5:7 (NIV)
Peter had walked with Jesus, denied him, and seen His resurrected body. If he, in his crisis of character, was restored and learned to lay all his worries at the Messiah’s feet, then speaking that power of release over our children should be paramount in their hours of trouble. If they are constantly fearful of “getting it wrong,” they need to know that mistakes are often the very things that lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves and God’s kindness of correction.
“…Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
So much of what frightens our little ones, and our not so little ones, are thoughts that spin out of control. Some are whispered by culture. Others by the Enemy of our souls.
Regardless, of the source, our sons and daughters have more power than they realize. The practice of taking every thought captive is crucial to their fight for peace – particularly when we are not around.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
Life in the twenty-first century runs at light speed. Offering the shelter of His embrace, as well as yours, encourages our children’s willingness to surrender what burdens them to the One who can carry it.
“Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret…” – Psalm 37:7 (NASB)
Creating space for calm amidst their exhausting schedules is essential for their long-term health. Model patience by allowing them to rest as much, if not more, than they strive for perfection.
As we battle for sacred spaces to thrive in His protective grace, God’s word is a never-ending source of strength for us and our children.
Resting in His peace with you,
Denise C. McDowell