2020 is nearly over, and many of us look to the next year for a fresh start and an end to current struggles. When we look at the facts about COVID and the time-table for the vaccination program, we realize that in this case, hope is little more than a symbol. 2020 may have brought the struggles, but 2021 will not allow us to leave them behind.
How do we muster up the trust to get through what lies ahead? How can we teach our children to trust when we are spent, and tired, and worried? How do we cling to the sure hope of the resurrection when the trials and tribulations of everyday life crowd into our hearts?
Contrary to the secular notion of trust, the trust of faith is not a partnership. It is not a give and take between God and us. It is not true that if we trust, He will provide, but if we let our level of trust slip, His strength will fade away. Trust does not depend on us; it comes from God.
Trust is not a partnership; it is a surrender.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
Look at the about-face in this verse. First, we are told to trust in God completely. Then we are told to lean not on our own efforts. This is surrender. Allowing our hearts to fill with faith does not leave room for our participation. We cannot do, or know, or be something that will make trust more effective.
So, how do we teach this to our children? We surrender by walking the walk. We let our children see our God-given trust even when we do not quite feel it. We do not have to understand. We simply obey.
These verses from Colossians are bringing me comfort today. Look for one particular repeated word.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3: 15-17
Be thankful – with thankfulness – giving thanks. And scattered in-between, we find other ways to walk the walk – teaching, singing, loving.
Trust always comes from God. We cannot manufacture it with our strength or in routines. However, when we walk the walk, when we do the things that remind us of God's power, His plan, His love, then we can surrender to His trust.
Consider some of the following ways to walk in trust:
Thankfulness reminds us why we can trust because it points our brains in a positive direction showing us what is good in the midst of what frustrates us. Find ways to make lists of the blessings in your lives – big and small. It is okay to connect these blessings to the recognition of struggles. We do not need to ignore negative emotions to be thankful. Pairing the good with the bad is a reminder of how God is always with us.
Prayer is a perfect way to connect
thankfulness to confessions of frustration. Make a point of creating family
time for prayer, praying together as a group, or praying with your children
one-by-one. Does it help to put your prayer in writing or does it work better to pray from the heart?
Could you turn your discussion into a prayer? Or perhaps create a two-column
list of items that inspire thanks and those that represent needs.Prayer is not about perfect words - it is about connection.
Walking in nature is a great way to be thankful and quietly present with God. Discussion is good, but so is a quiet time for prayer. As you walk, breathe out the frustrations and concerns and breathe in trust.
Thankfulness, trust, and service to others
seem to be closely connected in our brains. When we serve others, we remember
how God cares for us. Look to your neighbors to find a small act of service. Is
there a local charity that would benefit from volunteer work? Can technology
help you to connect to someone who is lonely? An anonymous act of "paying it forward" can fill the heart with delight.
What brings joy to your family? Find some simple activities that create good memories of this time. Reading together, playing board games, physical activities, baking, or creating something through music or art are worthy possibilities for finding family joy.
God's trust is with us and is as strong as His promise. When we work to clear our crowded minds of our own understanding, we free ourselves to feel the trust He gives us. Teaching your children to do this will be a blessing that will work in their favor long past 2020.
May you feel God's trust and find His peace.