Feelings are real and natural, but they shouldn’t dictate our thoughts and actions. Teach kids to trust God by relying on truth over feelings.
I’ve always felt a little cynical about the phrase “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” First of all, what if I don’t like lemonade? (I mean, I do, but that’s beside the point.) Second, I can’t make lemonade with just a few sour lemons. That makes lemon JUICE. So life better give me water and a whole lotta sugar too, right??
No matter how much we might try, without water and sugar, we aren’t going to end up with lemonade. The same is true with the hard things in our lives. They bring with them a multitude of heavy, difficult feelings to process and deal with making life seem pretty sour. When everything in our lives feels bad and hard, making lemonade is usually the last thing we want to do. Especially when it seems impossible.
Truth Over Feelings
While emotions are real and natural, we cannot let them rule our actions and thinking. This can lead to a life of constantly being stressed out, inadequate, fearful, bitter, angry, or resentful towards our God. Instead, we must be ruled by God’s truth! When the hard things feel too hard, too big, too painful, or too overwhelming, knowing the TRUTH about our God will help us make lemonade anyway.
Of course, we need to go to God’s Word for the ultimate source of truth. But it can be really discouraging or overwhelming if we just tell our kids to “read your Bible more.” Instead, we can point them to the key things they need to know in order to get started. So here are three things your kids need to know in order to put truth over feelings and grow their trust in God.
1. Who He Is
Most of us have been at a point in our lives where we’ve asked this question: “If God is good and in control, why would he let this happen to me?” Maybe we’ve even heard our kids say out loud what we don’t dare to. If God is all-powerful and good, why couldn’t he stop that job loss, that betrayal, that divorce, that cancer? We may even feel upset, wronged, or like God hasn’t kept His end of the deal.
The problem is that these questions focus on the wrong thing. Instead of asking “why?”, we need to go back to the first part of that question. Maybe we acknowledge “God is good and in control.” We might even respond with this exact phrase when a friend asks how we’re doing. But if we truly believe it, we’ll say “Because God is good and in control, I will trust Him.” We don’t need to ask “why” when hard things come. We just need to fix our eyes on WHO is in control.
When we feel like God isn’t listening, good, or present, it’s way harder to trust Him. We can’t trust a God we don’t know! So in order for your kids to be able to make lemonade and trust God with the hard things in their lives, they need to dig into God’s Word and get to KNOW Him. In those times of loneliness, heartbreak, illness, betrayal, and overwhelm, the truth about the character of our God meets that brokenness and begins to heal it. Only by truly knowing God and deepening their relationship with Him will your kids learn to joyfully trust His plan.
2. What He Promises
As we learn who God is, we also learn to rely on His promises. But sometimes, God’s promises seem confusing or contradictory to what we see in our lives. As a kid, I wondered why bad things happened since God says in Romans 8 that He’s working all things together for good. That promise just didn’t make sense to me when I looked at all the things I had decided were definitely NOT good.
What I slowly came to realize, though, was that I had centered my view of life entirely on ME. Because I felt like something wasn’t good, God hadn’t fulfilled His promise to me. Yet, my idea of what “good” was just didn’t align with what God’s plan for doing good in my life looked like. Instead of deciding God wasn’t keeping His promise, I had to decide to trust Him. Then, I slowly realized what His promise truly meant for my life.
Ultimately, the good God has promised to accomplish and is accomplishing in the life of every believer is to make us more like Christ so our lives bring glory to our Savior (Philippians 1:6, Ephesians 2:10). When this truth counsels and informs my feelings, “good” doesn’t mean I am comfy and life is easy. “Good” means I am becoming more like my Lord and showing the truth about Him in my life. As a result, sometimes “good” means going through hard things in order to grow my faith and draw me closer to Jesus.
Hard times can be incredibly painful and difficult. They can feel lonely and overwhelming. Remembering God’s promises of His presence, love, help, provision, and so many more wonderful things can help you and your kids face these hard times with joyful trust instead of anger, bitterness, fear, or despair.
3. What We Should Do
Though God is the only one with the power to transform hard, painful things into sweet things, He wants us to participate in the process! He wants us to TRUST that He is working, and to OBEY Him even while we don’t understand what’s going on. Though it may feel like God isn’t there, isn’t working, or isn’t good, knowing the TRUTH about Him will help us know what to do with these feelings. Despite the feelings burdening our hearts, we get to choose joy. Even though we don’t understand what He’s doing, we can trust His character and His promises. Guess what? THAT is how we make lemonade!
No matter what feelings are beating against the gates of our hearts, choose joy. No matter what we understand or see the answer to right now, trust Him. It won’t come easily. It will take intentional discipline of our minds and continual, minute-by-minute dependence on our God. The more we practice this absolute dependence, the more it will become a natural response when trouble comes.
By joyfully seeking to know our God and His promises, we set an example for our kids. They learn how to deal with things by watching and learning from us. So let’s put TRUTH over feelings and start making lemonade with our kids. We don’t need to hide hard things from them—we need to uncover the truth about who our God is with them! Then, as they get to know our wonderful God, they will also learn to trust His promises. When their hearts want to question why, we can teach them to turn their eyes to WHO is lovingly, perfectly, and absolutely in control of their lives.
Resources to Help
Learning to put truth over feelings is hard for adults AND kids! This is why we wrote Making Lemonade: Trusting God Through Life’s Struggles. This 20-day Bible study points your kids to the truth about God so they are equipped to handle the hard things and heavy feelings they will encounter in life. Through this study, they will learn the importance of examining the emotions they feel and counseling them with the truth about God. These hard times are where they learn about the joy of knowing and trusting our God. Then, instead of letting their feelings control them, your kids can grow their trust in God and make lemonade!
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.