7 Jul 2021
Have you ever seen news footage of a flood sweeping through a town or village? The crisis response is clear. Boats make their way down roads picking up those who are stranded. Interviews are filmed with residents from their bedroom windows. The strongest and fittest carry the vulnerable to safety through the water. School gyms become the last community refuge. And then the cameras return two weeks later. As the water ebbs away, so does the jovial wartime spirit. Instead, each house fills a skip with stinking carpets, broken kitchen appliances and ruined personal treasures. The clear up is usually more painful and longer lasting than the crisis.
I only say this ‘out loud’ because I suspect we have all noticed it already. We are not going straight back to our old normal. Our churches have started to meet again, but some chairs remain empty. Our schools pick through the regulations, but some children are still anxious. Our loved ones sit at our tables again, but they look much older. The clear up from Covid could well be more painful and longer lasting than the crisis.
Our children are handling some big emotions. They may be small but the pressures on them have been huge. Children are developmentally different to adults and each child is different, but the struggles and temptations of the human heart remain the same, irrespective of age or stage. The critical difference of youth is that they are still developing their coping strategies. Let us take this opportunity to teach our children to turn to God with their emotions, so that he can tend to their troubled hearts.
In the Psalms, our children can hear every cry of their hearts echoed, raw and unvarnished. They can hear their own emotions expressed. They can see their feelings of anxiety, loneliness, doubt or despair painted in full colour.
We have written a series of four Sunday School sessions to help our families work through this period of clear up. We have focused on four overwhelming emotions our children might be feeling:
• Apathy says, ‘God can’t help when it hurts’ • Abandonment says, ‘I am afraid and I have been deserted’
• Anxiety says, ‘I am worried because everything is out of control’
• Insecurity says, ‘I can’t wait for God’s happy ending, I’d better rely on something else’
These are the monsters that lurk in the darkness for our children, but they do not need to fight them alone and they do not need to be crushed by them. God is for our children. In his care, they find their shelter, their companion and their reassurance. His love, faithfulness and protection are big enough to enfold whatever they are experiencing. Through the Psalms, we can teach our children to run to God when the monsters loom large in their lives.
Wonderfully, the Psalms are corporate. We sing of our God together, reminding one another of truths we are prone to forget. We want our children to know that relying on God is not something they have to do alone. As they grow, our children won’t always want to listen to their parents and their parents won’t always be in the next room. But our children can always be part of a church family that will speak the truth to them in love. By looking at the Psalms together, we are teaching our children to find their comfort in God’s word and with God’s people.
As with all our resources, we hope you will find these lessons flexible enough to suit your unique needs. Consider using them as the foundation for your church sermons and youth ministry. Use the ‘Parent Components’ to encourage conversations about these Psalms at home. If we can all learn together then we will surely be better at fighting the monsters together.