When our children are anxious about an unknown situation, it can be hard as a parent to know how to help them with overcoming the spirit of fear. In this article, Jenna Marie Masters shares how she talked with her daughter about the omnipresence of God and, using examples from Scripture, reminds us that whatever uncertainty we or our children are facing right now, we can be reassured that Jesus is always with us.
What do you want the judge to decide in court tomorrow?” my daughter asked.
“Whatever God wants, I want.”
“But, what do you think will happen?”
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know,” I answered, feeling my chest tighten. And then it came—that oh-so-familiar heart flutter, signaling an anxiety attack.
Since we’ve become a foster family, I’ve grown accustomed to this dance. Heat washed over my body, so I hastily kissed her forehead, tucked her into bed, and rushed to my room to strip off my clothing. I stretched out on the bathroom floor, the cold tile stopping my body from sinking into a deeper pit of panic. Breathe, Jenna, breathe.
Even in the Unknown
When I made it to my bed an hour later, collected and dressed, an uneasy feeling sat in my stomach. We had been through many unknowns during our foster family journey, but court dates were always the hardest. They determined if our precious foster daughter would remain with us for six more months or return to her biological family. Foster families aren’t privy to the inner workings of a judge’s decisions, so the answer I gave my daughter was honest. I really didn’t know what would happen.
But was this really the best answer I could give her? Clearly, the answer unnerved me, so how had it affected her innocent 12-year-old heart? And how many times had I said, “I don’t know” to her in the past year—the year of a pandemic, distance learning, masking, vaccine debates, and social unrest?
My daughter was worried, and I failed to give her any reason not to be. Our children are looking to us for assurance and peace. I realized that every time I express worry in front of my children over the unknown, I’m silently communicating, “I don’t fully trust Jesus in this situation.”
Emmanuel—God With Us
This may be hard for you to hear. Maybe you’re thinking, It’s natural to worry; it’s human nature. True, but we are called by God to die to our flesh and take on a new spirit. “For 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).
Our kids need more than, “I don’t know.”
Not being sure of what will happen in the future does not take away from the certainty of Emmanuel, God with us. So let this be our focus! Ministering this truth to our kiddos (and ourselves, if we are honest) is vital in helping them learn to let go of worry. God’s presence gives us peace, courage, and confidence! God’s Word reveals this to us through the many examples of the lives of His followers. Because they knew God was with them, they did incredible things to set aside their worry during the unknown.
MOSES, AND PEACE
God asked Moses to lead approximately two million Jews out of Egypt. Through it all, we see that Moses’ peace is born out of knowing that God is with him. His pleading for answers about what to do and say shifts to him pleading for God’s presence instead. In the midst of his angst and worry, God answers him: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). Similarly, Jesus reminds us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
We may not be leading millions of Hebrews out of Egypt, but leading one third grader through Common Core math is enough to make me jump into God’s arms for peace!
SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO, AND COURAGE
These three guys were thrown in a fiery furnace because of their faith. Then, a fourth person—none other than the Son of God—shows up in the fire. King Nebuchadnezzar is astonished, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt” (Daniel 3:25). They didn’t know if they would survive, but they were confident God was with them. This knowledge made them brave. They even declared before the king that their God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace. God reminds us again in Joshua that His presence is all we need to be courageous, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Of course, the chances of our kiddos being thrown into a fire any time soon are slim, but then again, there’s always Middle School. And Jesus will be there with them, too.
THE DISCIPLES, AND CONFIDENCE
They had experienced miracles, revolutionary teachings, and profound love. But after His arrest and brutal death on the cross, they fled and hid in fear (Mark 14:50). The moment Jesus wasn’t physically with them, they crumbled. When Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection, we’re told some still doubted. But His last words on earth changed all that: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).
After hearing these words, the disciples came out of hiding, began confidently declaring the gospel, and went on to spur the most profound religious movement on earth. At this moment, Jesus could have warned that most of them would be martyred. He could have shown them how the story ends and shared visions from Revelations. But Jesus knew that the only thing His disciples needed to face the future was Himself.
And it’s the same for us. He lovingly reminds us, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end” (Exodus 33:14, The Message Translation).
AFFIRMING THE TRUTH
It was late, and I risked waking my daughter up, but I couldn’t let the night continue without clarifying my statement. Tiptoeing into her room, kneeling, and brushing a wisp of hair from my daughter’s cheek, I started in, “Ciana, are you awake still?”
She opened her eyes and nodded.
“You know how I said I didn’t know what would happen in court tomorrow?”
“Well, I still don’t know. But God does. And He’s with us while we wait. He’s all we need.”
It’s Who we Know
And there it was, the cap that should cover every believer’s worry about the present and the future: it’s not what we know but who we know. Jesus is always with us—during the math test, on the soccer field, during homework (thank you, Lord!), until the end of the age.
I went to bed that night with a vision of Jesus sitting alone in the courtroom, waiting for the judge to arrive. He reminded me that He is not a Father who waits for us empty-handed. His hands are full of everything I need for every circumstance: comfort, rest, strength, provision, compassion, wisdom, and power. His arms are ready to catch my exhausted heap of a body. It’s all there because He is there.
Our Prince of Peace is the One who goes ahead of us. He will be with us. He will not fail us nor forsake us. We do not need to fear or to be dismayed (Deuteronomy 31:8). Whatever uncertainty we are facing right now, Jesus is ready to walk with us through it—and this is a truth our children need to hear just as much as we do.
For further reading: Daniel 3:24-25, Matthew 28:17-20, Exodus 33:15-16
How can we continue to remind our children (and ourselves) of ‘God with us’ even when we don’t know what’s ahead? What other examples from Scripture would you choose to guide them through unknown and worrying situations ?
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Thank you for this excellent post, Jenna. During tough times, I also remind my kids that “this too shall pass.” It may seem like it will last forever but, it will not. We try to focus on what we can learn while we wait. Are we learning how to show patience, trust, compassion?
Even if the answers to our situation may not seem clear, we pray for God to reveal Himself to us. It’s like you said, ultimately, He is all we need.
Hi Sally! I love your beautiful insight! Especially trying to focus on what we can learn while we wait. That can be so hard! Thank you for sharing❤️ -Jenna Marie:)