What we’ve been experiencing during COVID-19 has intensified the awareness of our human condition. We’re sensing the shortness of life, are more aware of the reality of death, are feeling anxious about the temporary nature of jobs, and are concerned about the limitations of health care.
COVID-19 has transported us to a new place. The myth of normality is exposed. We’re stuck in the present, with no enchanted remote control to click fast-forward, or no way to magically turn back the clock.
Yet it’s not all doom and gloom. While the pandemic is painful and unwelcome, the light shines in the darkness. This is the good news: Light is breaking in and inviting us to look to the source.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Note the phrase “while he is near.” Don’t assume that because life is in lockdown, that this isn’t a pivotal moment in our existence. The Lord is near, and if we don’t act, we may miss the chance to find Him.
Faith under duress.
It’s often during the difficult, dislocated, dreary, desolate, disorienting, or depressing times that faith is nurtured. When the going gets tough, that’s when we’re more likely to seek and find the Lord.
This is an opportunity to help each other connect with Jesus. The pandemic confronts us with the delusion of independence and self-sufficiency. Now that we’re face to face with our frailty, being at home is a good place to discover that we’re not alone – that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Fostering faith personally.
Many people are looking forward to better days – holding out for life to get better when the lockdown ends. That’s hope, but it’s not faith.
“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” ~ Oswald Chambers
Faith is committing everything, including whatever the future holds, to God. Faith believes that God is true. It’s trusting and totally relying on Him. It’s “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Therefore faith is more than adding something spiritual to our lives.
Practices like prayer, Bible reading, being baptized, or going to church, aren’t faith. Faith is holding onto Jesus and not letting go, regardless of the circumstances. As the early 20th Century Scottish evangelist, Oswald Chambers said, “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”
Fostering faith in children.
COVID-19 is a teachable moment. Just like Jesus used analogies to teach the truth, we should see the coronavirus as an analogy for sin, and the need for a vaccine similar to the need for a Saviour.
Share and care. Don’t assume your children understand the Gospel. Speak to them about how, like a virus, sin is an invisible deadly disease that infects every part of us. Tell them that Jesus is the Great Physician with the only cure for sin. Explain how we’re made whole and pure within when we believe that Jesus shed His blood as a vaccine that defeats the virus of sin. And invite your children to ask the Great Physician to heal and save them from the virus of sin (cf. Isaiah 53:5-12, Acts 16:31).
[Note: Scripture Union Canada defines sin as anything we think, say, or do that goes against what God wants us to think, say, and do.]
MORE ON THE HOPE BLOG
Let’s Talk About Sin: a look at the problem of sin and how we can create a loving model to deal with the hard stuff and point kids to Jesus.
From Root to Fruit: How we can leave the lies behind and turn toward the good news truth of Jesus!
Modelling healthy faith.
To foster personal faith in children, we must know faith personally. We can’t profess what we don’t possess. Children are looking for the real deal. It’s not enough to believe the right things. Children must see us living out what we believe. In every day practical ways, we should be dying to self and becoming more like Jesus.
While we should aim to be more like Jesus, we must also admit that we fall short of the mark. Part of modelling faith is acknowledging our shortcomings and encouraging our children to fix their eyes on Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
Changing the family tree.
Children have no choice in the selection of their parents, but they can and should choose a spiritual father. Being home together with your children is a good time to capture their attention. Maybe say, “It’s time for you to be adopted!” This could be a shocking suggestion, especially if your children think the lockdown has been wearing on your nerves. So quickly explain (with a smile on your face), how in addition to belonging to your DNA family, God wants your children to belong to His family.
Believing, belonging and becoming. There’s no real future for our children if they don’t have faith. Let’s use the lockdown to encourage children to embrace a faith that relies on Jesus, responds to Jesus, rejoices in Jesus, receives from Jesus, and reproduces the character of Jesus.
Here’s the bottom line: The greatest pandemic isn’t COVID-19, it’s sin. If, after the pandemic, children have come to Jesus or deepened their faith in Jesus, then they’ll have done more than survived the virus, they’ll be immune to spiritual death!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lawson Murray is the president of Scripture Union Canada. This article first appeared on the Children’s Ministry Basics blog. It is reprinted and used with permission.