God's Principles can bring peace of mind and help you guide your children through the coronavirus pandemic.
Though I was already a young man when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, I still remember my first thought upon hearing of the tragedy: I wanted to talk to my dad!
Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am a father of four, and my own children are seeking advice from me. I am now very well aware that I have a responsibility to help guide my children through life’s predictable traumas—such as the deaths of loved ones, troubled relationships, and the disappointments that come with the failure to achieve goals and hopes.
But not all traumas are expected. When unpredictable distress arrives, it is all the more important that my wife and I are there to take our children by the hand and help them navigate their way through frightening experiences they have never faced before. Even in circumstances where my wife and I are working hard to maintain our own peace of mind, we recognize that we still have a special responsibility toward the children God has placed in our care. And we can be grateful that God has given us the strength and the tools we need as parents to help our children cope—and thrive!
When my children learned that because of COVID-19 their school had been closed, their extracurricular activities canceled, and their church activities moved online, they naturally wondered what this meant for them and for the people they loved. What could I tell them? For someone striving to practice positive parenting, how would I help them deal with such negative circumstances?
Thankfully, I could tell them that God is in control. He has told us in advance that the end of this age will include pestilences, among other sorrows (Matthew 24:7). In fact, these pestilences are listed among the “beginning of sorrows” (v. 8), so we know there are many prophecies yet to be fulfilled before Christ returns. But we also know that we should not fear, because God promises protection for His followers who are devoted to His way of life at the end of this age (Revelation 3:10). If God is our refuge, parents and children alike can seek His protection from danger during troubled times. We need not be dominated by fear of “the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday” (Psalm 91:6).
Of course, even with His involvement in our lives, God expects us to be wise and not reckless. It would be extremely foolish to use faith as an excuse to purposefully take actions that put our health at risk. To think “God is my Healer, so it doesn’t matter what I do” is to tempt Him to correct our arrogance!
Just because God has the power to save us from all diseases—and other problems—does not mean we should be irresponsible. In fact, that is the very distortion of truth with which Satan tried to tempt our Savior. Psalm 91, referenced above, promises that God will protect His faithful people, and Satan tried to use that promise to provoke Jesus Christ to leap from the pinnacle of the Temple to demonstrate God’s power of protection. Doubting God’s power to protect would be a mistake, but if we willfully act recklessly and then presume to demand God’s protection, we are daring to tempt Him—and we should not take His response for granted!
Instead of demanding that God protect us from the consequences of our willful rebellion, we should teach our children that we must do our part and that there are things we can do to protect our health! Many of the statutes and judgments in the word of God were given to help the ancient Israelites maintain their physical health and deal with disease. In fact, were those statutes and judgments kept today—especially those concerning unclean meats and quarantine—there’s a good chance the COVID-19 pandemic would never have begun! Times like these provide valuable opportunities to teach our children the wisdom of God’s laws.
What can we do? As Christians observing God’s health laws, we aren’t eating the bats, pigs, and other unclean animals from which this virus and others like it have come. Eating properly helps our immune systems be at their best to resist not just COVID-19 but other illnesses, as well. And we follow the Bible’s teaching about quarantine when we cooperate with our governments (Romans 13:1–7) when our civil authorities institute similar measures to keep sickness from spreading beyond those already infected. Personal and community health guidelines such as “social distancing” and hygienic practices such as hand washing are anchored in biblical principles. This should be highlighted to our children, both to teach them responsibility and to assure them that they are not powerless—that there are actions they can take to make a difference.
In helping our children to see God as our ultimate Protector, Healer, and Savior, two more lessons should be considered.
While we should do all we can, it is still important for our children to understand that there are many factors we cannot control. Since the coronavirus incubation period can be as long as 14 days, many of us have no idea if we have been around someone who is infected. Our actions do greatly reduce the likelihood both of catching the virus and of passing it on to others. But it is important to teach our children that, even when we are not acting recklessly, we have to rely on God for protection concerning the many things that are beyond our control. Much may truly be beyond our control, but nothing is ever beyond His.
Finally, we must work to help our children embrace a larger perspective. After all, God does not promise that His faithful servants will never face troubles or illnesses. The Apostle Paul prayed fervently that God would remove a persistent “thorn in the flesh” from him, yet God let it remain because it served His larger purpose for Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7–9). Certainly, Paul will be free of that “thorn” in the resurrection. Even if God chooses to allow some of His faithful people to die of a tragic illness, the ultimate outcome will be glorious. God’s power of protection is so great that it extends beyond the grave! Our children need to know that. And they need to know that, no matter their circumstances, God has His eye on them. They need to know that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His seeing it, and that they are worth much, much more than sparrows to Him—so much that He even knows how many hairs they have on their head (Matthew 10:29–31).
The COVID-19 virus provided me the opportunity to remind my children about these fundamental aspects of our Christian lives. We must have complete trust that God can protect us, that He is actively involved in our lives, and that He will bring His plan to completion. Nevertheless, we must also do our part and choose well. As we approach the end of this age—coming closer each day to the return of Christ—these lessons will help our children, and their parents, to develop the faith and courage we need to thrive!