Sometimes when national tragedies happen, we struggle to know how to respond. We want to do something about it. And when our children ask questions, we worry about the impact these things can have on them.
This blog from my wife, Donna, may encourage you and help you as you raise children in these days, and may give you a resource to share with others. God is still sovereign, even in an age of terror!
President, Life Action Division
by Donna Avant
It was December 2001; John was outside hanging Christmas lights on a warm December afternoon in Georgia. The driveway was still wet from a morning rain. I had just gone outside to encourage and thank him for working so hard to hang up our Christmas lights. John hates doing things like this; anything involving electricity or repairing something brings him much frustration because it usually ends up in some sort of disaster. This day would be no exception.
As I approached him, I could tell he was already in frustration mode because he couldn’t figure out why some light bulbs were not working. He was barefoot on the wet pavement. I had on tennis shoes. As I was watching him, he picked up two exposed wires just about the time I leaned in to give him an encouraging kiss. At that moment, I received the most electrifying kiss of our marriage.
We both fell backward on the pavement, and I began to scream, “I’ve been shocked! I’ve been shocked!”
Our eleven-year-old son, Trey, ran out of the house dressed in his camo shirt with his BB gun, ready to protect his parents who were lying on the cement. Trey had heard us yelling but thought I was screaming, “I’ve been shot! I’ve been shot!”
As funny as this story seems, Trey’s reaction to what he heard me scream came from the beginning of a new era in our nation: Raising Children in an Age of Terror.
The millennial generation and the children of today have become a part of this new era. It began with our children seeing the fall of the twin towers; destruction of cities by hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes; gunmen murdering people in movie theaters; teenagers murdering fellow students in the classroom; and now the worst mass murder in American history as fans were just trying to enjoy a concert.
The millennials and this generation of young students have seen it all in color, on big-screen TVs and their iPads and laptops.
How should we live in this age of fear?
Here are some practical ways to enable you and your family to live in faith and not in fear:
- Limit your exposure to TV news and social media. When tragic events are going on in the world, we tend to let the news blare 24/7 in our homes, cars, and offices. This is not healthy. Yes, be wise and know what is occurring. If you have students in your home and they see tragedy on the news, talk to them honestly about what is going on in the world. Reassure them that we serve a sovereign God who is in control. Take opportunities to pray with your spouse and children as events unfold. No source of news needs to be the constant blare in the background of any home.
- Teach them God’s Word and prayer. There is so much focus on physical weapons, but are we arming ourselves with the most powerful of weapons, God’s Word and prayer? There is a reason the Bible talks about fear over 300 times. Now is the time to arm yourself and your family with God’s Word. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). The power in this verse is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. The love in this verse is the same love that caused Christ to lay down His life for us! And the sound mind is a mind that can distinguish truth from a lie. We must learn and choose to distinguish truth from lies, and pass that discipline on to our children. When we are afraid, we need to ask ourselves, “What is truth in this situation? What does God’s Word say?” Arm yourself and your family with God’s Word in order to instill God-confidence into their lives and enable them to live on the offense and not on the defense.
- Offer hope! How does one give hope in this world that seems evil and out of control? We receive hope as we see we can actually make a difference. Now is the time to serve others! Our Enemy would love for us to stay inside the four walls of our homes or churches. Now is not the time to back down. Now is the time to serve.
- Sacrifice something in order to provide for someone in need. Allow your children to do the same.
- Make a meal for a hurting family in your neighborhood.
- Choose to encourage someone who is overlooked: a janitor, a teacher, a bus driver, a garbage man.
- Go on a mission trip. Allow your student to go on an overseas mission trip. If you cling to your child in fear, you will raise a young adult who makes decisions based on fear. If you want a God-confident adult, lead them to make decisions based on what God is leading them to do, not based on fear!
Monday’s act of evil was a tragedy. Let’s choose to not allow the Enemy to hold us hostage to fear, but to walk in God-confidence as we serve others and hold out hope to the world around us.