Hard things happen in life. Teach your kids to apply God’s truth when experiencing overwhelming emotions and facing difficult times. Read more.
I remember when I realized that hard things are just part of life. It wasn’t because anything huge had happened. I think it was because I had already experienced the loss of grandparents, a move to a new state away from all my friends, the crises in many friends’ lives, and lots of other “life stuff.” One day it just clicked, and I understood deep in my heart just how broken sin has made this world. Through the years, that truth has been confirmed to me over and over. I have seen—as I’m sure you have as well—how those shards of brokenness are as numerous and inescapable as the tiny shards of glass that have shattered on a tiled kitchen floor.
Whether you’ve dealt with hard things in the past or you’re dealing with them right now, you know—we will all face difficult times in life. You also know that there are incredibly hard, lonely, and bitter times ahead for your children to walk through. Though we often wish this wasn’t true for our kids and that we could shield them from all the painful and sad things in life, we just don’t have that level of control. So the best thing we can do for our kids is equip them to face the hard times well. We have the privilege of teaching them how to deal with all those heavy feelings that burden their hearts.
1) Faith that Makes Lemonade
You probably know the saying that goes, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Honestly, when I first read that saying, I thought it was pretty ridiculous. Am I just supposed to pretend it’s possible to “make lemonade” out of any situation? Even when my heart feels like it’s been ripped apart? Even when I feel completely overwhelmed and helpless? But as I thought about it more, I realized that Christians are actually the only ones who CAN take the hard things in life and make lemonade.
Christians can accept the hard things in life with joy while resting in the sweetness of a relationship with the all-powerful, good, and loving God of the universe. Nothing happens to us that His grace cannot keep us through. Though the hard things and emotions that come with them are very real, it is the TRUTH about God that will strengthen us through the times we feel like fainting.
If we, as adults, struggle so much with these heavy feelings and emotions in hard times, imagine how overwhelming these emotions are to our kids! They may even try to push down or silence these emotions because they seem bad. But the emotions themselves aren’t wrong or just something to get over. Emotions are very real and sometimes, very strong. The problem with emotions comes when our responses to them are wrong.
This is why our kids MUST know the truth about God! When emotions are washing over them like waves of the ocean, remembering and believing the truth about God is the only way our kids can keep from being consumed by the hard things in this life. They must learn to counsel the heavy feelings in their hearts with the truth about their God. Encourage your kids to trust God no matter what, and pray that they recognize His goodness as He works through the hard things in their lives. So when life hands your kids lemons, they can get busy trusting God and Making Lemonade.
2) What to Do With Anger
Whether your kids blow up, bottle up, or a bit of both, chances are, you’ve seen this response to hard things. They may feel out of control or like things just aren’t fair. Maybe they are angry at the person who has inflicted pain on them or those they love. Whatever the circumstance, our kids need to know that anger can take us where we don’t want to go. In fact, sometimes it’s a red flag signaling that our trust isn’t where it should be.
Though we can feel anger without sinning, anger that lashes out or pulls away and pouts is definitely sinful. So when our kids seem to be struggling with anger, they need to know how to deal with it. Learning to ask, “Why am I angry?” can help them get to the root issue. Maybe their anger is directed at a person who has made life hard for them or even at God, because they think He should have kept something from happening. In these times, just as with all hard times, our kids need to come back to the truth they know about God. He IS good and in control. He will bring justice, heal wounds, and work through awful circumstances. They can trust His plan—even when it looks different from theirs.
3) When Fear is Overwhelming
Sometimes when we face hard things, it is that fear overwhelms our hearts. Maybe it’s the unknown following a cancer diagnosis or a move across the country. Our fear could look like the dread of being vulnerable in relationships where we desire acceptance and love but receive rejection or betrayal. In times when money is tight, maybe it’s anxiety over how our needs will be met. Maybe we feel unsafe or forgotten and wonder who could possibly help us or understand what we’re facing.
In a world where fear rules the lives of so many people, we can help our children be victorious over this crippling emotion. We aren’t alone, forgotten, or unloved. On the contrary—our Good Shepherd leads us to green pastures and still waters (John 10 and Psalm 23). He calls us to come to Him with our burdens in exchange for His yoke which is easy and light (Matthew 11:28). Jesus desires for us to cast our cares on Him, because He cares for us more than ANYONE else (1 Peter 5:7). Because of His mercy and compassion for us, we can have the peace to lie down and sleep, knowing He is the One who makes us dwell in safety (Psalm 4:8). As we rest in His hand and trust His Word, this God gives us HIS peace and quiets our fear.
4) Choosing Forgiveness
There are times when pain, anger, or fear burrows deep into our hearts. We don’t realize how quickly we lose trust in people or even in God. We don’t see the poisonous root of bitterness growing in our hearts and infecting every thought and emotion. Instead, we become cynical and sarcastic. We lose the ability to trust, find joy, show compassion, or forgive. This bitterness that festers so silently will destroy our kids unless they learn to recognize it and kill it.
The truth Christians forget when we grow bitter is that God has forgiven us! Our sin against our infinitely holy and just God has an infinite penalty—eternal death and separation from God. But Jesus took God’s wrath upon Himself, making a way for us to receive forgiveness! When we hold back forgiveness from others, we forget the amazing forgiveness God has shown to us. When our kids understand God’s mercy and forgiveness, they will be able to forgive those who hurt them. Instead of being slaves to bitterness, they can be thankful to God and merciful to others.
5) Hope for Right Now and Forever
Maybe you or your kids have come to a place with the hard things in life where you feel like there’s no hope. The hard times have lasted so long, you’re beginning to despair that life will never be normal or happy again. But here’s the truth, friend—our hope doesn’t come from our circumstances, our happiness, or our comfort. Our hope comes from the truth that Jesus has won the victory over our greatest enemy. Because Jesus has won the victory over sin, we have hope for our lives right now and hope for eternity!
God has a purpose for each one of our lives and He has promised to help us, hear us, and work despite our failures or fears. He gives us joy and a new song in our hearts. Jesus perfectly understands us because He came and lived on earth—He experienced the pain, sorrow, and hardness of this sin-cursed world. It is because of His unconditional love that we can have hope for tomorrow. No matter what we face in life, we have salvation which is victory over death, freedom from sin, power to live for Christ, and eternity in God’s presence. Because God is unchanging and His promises are sure, our kids can have lives that are Abounding in Hope!
Learning These Truths
When our kids are faced with hard times, whether they grow and thrive or struggle and despair depends on where they have put their trust. Are they depending on themselves, their plans, friends, or you to keep them steady in this life? What happens when, like Job, they lose everything? Do they lose their hope, joy, and peace as well? They don’t have to! This is why we wrote our Heavy Feelings Series—to help your kids learn to apply God’s truth to the emotions they will face in hard times. If their hope is in the truth about God and His promises in His Word, your kids can be joyful in any circumstance.
Ever since she was a little girl, listening delightedly as her mom read books and poetry out loud to her, Jessica has been enraptured by the power of words. When she is not reading or scribbling down poems of her own, Jessica can most likely be found hiking with her husband or trying out new recipes. She has yet to discover at what point plants, journals, and coffee mugs become *excessive,* but is sure she can still find room for one or two more. Through her bachelor’s degree in English Literature, opportunities to write for various small publications, and experience as a Staff Writer for Not Consumed Ministries, Jessica has grown in her passion for writing and desire to share that passion with others. As she seeks to show the goodness and beauty of God in her calling as a writer-wife-homemaker, Jessica hopes to encourage you in your relationships with family, friends, and most importantly, in your relationship with Christ.