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Parenting During a Pandemic

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It’s interesting to see the wide range of emotions around us as the spread of the coronavirus impacts our daily lives more and more.

For some, it’s simply an inconvenience chalked up to lots of hype with not-so-much science. For others, it has become more and more dire as we see our schools closing and major gatherings canceled.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum, the kids in your home are probably experiencing a wide range of emotions at any given moment each day. And there’s no need to speculate as to how the world around us is handling it: the angst is easily measured by looking at the empty store shelves where the toilet paper used to reside.

As you find yourself with LOTS of extra family time, what’s the game plan for speaking truth into this situation?

How are you going to shape the narrative of this pandemic to line up with your faith?

What’s your response to the world around you that is panicked by the pandemic?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, and, quite frankly, I’ve been to Costco more times this week than I care to discuss. But it’s probably time to consider a better game plan than inadvertently allowing the national news media and our erratic social media feeds to influence our perspective.

Let’s consider three ways to rescript our family’s narrative in the wake of the fear and uncertainty we’re facing these days.

Choose faith

This is the closest thing to 9/11 our kids have experienced.

Be honest with your kids by admitting that these days are unsettling. Talk about your family’s choice to live in faith over fear, pointing them to God’s word as the authority in all situations.

I’ve found Psalm 91 to be a great word on how to respond when we’re facing the hard places:

Those who live in the shelter of the Most HIGH
Will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty,
This I declare about the Lord:
He Alone is my God, and I trust him.

For he will rescue you from every trap
And protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday. (Psalm 91:1–7)

The Lord says, I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer’
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
And give them my salvation. (Psalm 91:14–16)

Even today, we reside in the safest place we could ever be as we rest in the shadow of the almighty. The names describing the Lord in this passage are a great reminder that he’s the Most High and the Almighty, the only One who is all sufficient for every circumstance.

The psalm ends with the encouragement that when we love God and cling to him, he provides deliverance and protection. Certainly, that can look like physical protection on earth, but even greater is the promise of eternal safety through his salvation. We can find peace in that truth alone.

Talk to your kids about all of the times God has been faithful in the past, reminding them that he never lets us down. Explain the all-encompassing sufficiency of God, especially when we have no control. Remind them that, of all the voices speaking into the issues right now, we will choose to listen only to the voice of Truth.

Choose productivity

C.S. Lewis wrote an essay, “On Living in an Atomic Age” in 1948, just a few years after the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and in response to the Cold War becoming a new reality. Trade out the atomic bomb concerns and insert our pandemic and you’ve got some profound advice on how to best live these days:

It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

We may be facing the pandemic of our lifetime, but, as followers of Christ, let’s pull ourselves (and our families) together. As we’re walking these hard roads, let’s be found doing “sensible” things consistent with who we are in Jesus. Let’s not miss even one opportunity to spend time with the Lord, take care of our family, financially support those in need, and protect our elderly.

The CDC has advised us to practice “social distancing” to slow down the spread of this contagious virus. But let’s not allow spiritual distancing, or failing to see God in the midst of this, to keep us from seizing every opportunity to do good.

Go to Jesus first thing every day to sustain you and lead you. Then go and do. Send the texts, drop food on the doorstep, and speak truth with every breath. Let’s refuse to be “frightened sheep” dominated by the news of the day. Instead, let’s be determined to spread the gospel to the anxious world around us.

Choose prayer

Seems obvious, right?

But I’m thankful there’s no app to measure the amount of time I’ve spent on my phone this week versus on my knees. It would be a sad measure.

Let’s get our families gathered and make it our highest priority to pray for this virus and all those impacted. Let’s be a body of Christ that is not marked by fear or apprehension but is marked by prayer.

  • Pray for those who are ill and ask the Lord for his comfort and healing on each individual who is sick, praying they will know God’s peace tangibly and that he will be real in their lives (James 5:14–15, Jeremiah 30:17, 2 Chronicles 7:14–15).
  • Pray for those who have not contracted the illness but are worried about it spreading. Ask the Lord to provide peace and protection from anxiety and depression and that he will be a shelter to those who are fearful in the days to come (Isaiah 41:10, John 14:27, Psalm 94:19).
  • Pray for those who are working on vaccines, asking the Lord to give his infinite wisdom so no more lives will be lost. He is truly the Great Physician, so pray that he will provide the cure to this disease to someone researching a cure even at this very moment (James 1:5, Exodus 15:26).
  • Pray for all of the medical personnel treating those who are ill. Ask the Lord to give them wisdom and compassion as they provide the very best care, while also providing supernatural protection for all the first responders and their families (Psalm 5:11–12, Psalm 16:1).

We’re walking uncharted territory, and it’s easy to get lost in the unknown and forget who we belong to and what we are about. Our culture needs us to point back to Jesus. Our families need us to lead well.

We have a faith that brings hope in the darkness, giving us no better opportunity than today to live on display.

Every word, every response, and every belief in the coming days is a choice. Let’s choose wisely.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” —2 Chronicles 7:14

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