Thunder rumbled me out of a slumber. I rolled over, checked the time, and anticipated the sound of small footsteps bolting down the hallway. Spring thunderstorms have brought with them many questions this season as my son matures and begins to grasp the fragility of this life and the power of God, and this morning was about to become a lasting object lesson.
We lay there as the storm raged on. Just as he began to calm down from my attempts to comfort him, a flash, a jolt, and alarms made us both jump out of bed. Lightning is violent when it strikes, and our home went from feeling the place of a fortress in a storm to a receptor of terrifying force.
After I inspected the house to make sure there was no immediate danger, I hugged my shaken child and began helping him deal with the emotional aftermath of what had just happened. When a child’s innocent perception meets a reality check such as this one, he must acknowledge fear, and the fact is that fear is, well, scary. We hugged and read Psalm 56:3 together:
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.”
These words brought comfort to the first round of emotions, and we began going about the new necessities of our day: assessing the damage done to the house and our belongings and seasoned it with helping young minds grasp all of the facts and emotions that come when life strikes and shakes up our norm.
All of these events served as a great reminder that throughout life our kids will continually face situations that are unpleasant, scary, and sobering. They will watch how we respond to determine how to deal with their own challenges. That’s why it’s imperative that we are mindful, when going through our own difficulties, to appropriately include our children in the conversations and processes. While they don’t need to be burdened with the more intense details, there will inevitably be life lessons to teach our children.
The day that lightning struck our house brought with it the lesson of balancing fear and faith. A.W. Tozer said it well when he proclaimed, “To fear and not be afraid, that is the paradox of faith.” This is the lesson that I’ve found myself instilling in my kids while we work through getting everything repaired.
Legitimately scary things will happen in life; it’s silly to try to lie to ourselves and our kids about this, but knowing where to place our fear is what strengthens our faith. Fear is not an evil thing, but our tendency, as people who can only see part of the picture, is to think that we must resolve to become fearless. Instead of stressing over making it a quest to be fearless, I can help my child learn what to do when the fear comes.
When I am afraid, I will trust in the One who is trustworthy.
When I am afraid, I will choose to channel that fear into a reverence for God.
When I am afraid, I will focus on that which is “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy.” (Philippians 4:8)
Fear comes with parenting and living just as it comes with being a child navigating the uncertain journey of growing up. While we won’t always have the answers they want, we can equip our kids to handle the questions and challenges of life with the truth of God’s Word so their faith and confidence can grow.