Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3
The other morning Laurel ruined one of David’s creations, a splendid paper tank, just as he was cutting the turret and guns for it. As David cried on my lap, I comforted him as though his world were falling apart.
The tendency for me is to think, it’s just a little piece of paper, get over it, but then I miss the opportunity to see life from God’s perspective. If instead I help him deal with his crisis biblically, as his brain matures and his crises get more complex, he’ll have developed a habit of turning to God and His Word already. That’s my goal anyway.
He was quiet in my lap for some time, brooding, and I needed to get work done. So I asked him whether he wanted to remake the tank. No, I’ll just sit on the couch, was his reply. So I asked him if he was thinking happy thoughts or sad thoughts. His silence told me the answer. Obviously, my comfort had been a little too shallow. 🙂
I reminded him of Philippians 4:8. The Bible talks about thinking good things, and not bad things. We are commanded to keep our minds stayed on God (even though the verse uses pronouns, I used God’s name to make it clear. I’m glad I did.). I asked David if he knew what that verse meant. Silence. I went on.
God tells us that thinking on him gives us peace, so we need to know how to think about God when bad things happen. We talked about God’s sovereignty for a bit. We don’t always know why God allows things in our lives, but we know that he can certainly prevent sad things from happening. We know that God is so very good to us, so we can trust him that he has a reason for the sad thing. We reviewed our thankfulness verse. I asked him if it was easy to tell God thank you when something bad happens. No, it is not easy, but if we remember that God is sovereign and that God is good, then we can tell him thank you even if we don’t understand.
I prayed with him thus: God, thank you for allowing this hard thing today. We don’t understand why you allowed Laurel to ruin David’s tank, and we are sad that it happened. Help us to remember that you love us very much, and that we can trust you.
I asked him what happy thoughts he intended to think. I want him to deliberately turn his thoughts to good things. So we talked about how his daddy had a surprise day off and was going to take him on a hike. We talked about airplanes (that will always bring a smile!), we talked about our Coke jello that we were going to eat for dinner.
I’m still learning this lesson. It was good for me to hear, too.
Jay Younts says
Hi Michelle, in addition to the good things you told your son, you could also encourage him with this unhappy event in his life being an indication of God’s care for him. I believe that Heb. 12:5-11 is teaching exactly this. We can endure hardship as discipline because God is giving us what we need. The passage acknowledges the pain is real. To have a this paper tank he has created and then crushed is a big deal to a young boy. This passage is directing David to see that God is constantly doing things to turn him to think about things from God’s point of view. God is so powerful and so concerned that he directs all the events of our lives so that we would think about Him and honor Him.
Yes a tank was crushed. Yes it is sad, even devastating at the moment. But there are important things to learn. People, like his sister and his mother, are more valuable than even his favorite toy. God brings comfort in hard times. Your son will have many more moments of his best efforts being “ruined” by others. While as parents we don’t want our children to go through this sort of pain, it is what life is like in this world. So, ultimately David will not find true satisfaction in neat toys. Psalm 73 says the nearness of God is my good. This is a lesson of intimacy for David to learn. Times of disappointment must be times of seeing God at work. As our children grow there will be more ruined tanks, sadly more broken relationships but there is always the presence of God to embrace. Earthly things come and go. Some of them rust, some of them break and of them are wiped out by wandering sisters. But God is always there. It is never to early to teach your children to look at what is unseen, what is true treasure. In this way we can help prepare them for the storms of life that Matthew 7:24-27 tells are sure to come.
Jay– Thanks for these thoughts. I can see how God turns my thoughts toward Him through difficulty, and I do think this will be a helpful concept to share with my children. You get the Wisdom Wednesday award. 🙂