Imagine living in a world where almost everyone is twice your size. Your world exists somewhere between the knees and the belt buckle of most everyone you know. One wrong step on a crowded sidewalk could send you sprawling. Almost everything reminds you of your helplessness. Doors too big to push, counters too high to see over, and virtually everything in the world can burn you, bite you, or fall on you. Children understand better than anyone how small and helpless all of us are in this dangerous, unpredictable universe. But without proper perspective and guidance, their vulnerability can breed fear, which can in turn, trigger destructive coping mechanisms that will plague them as adults.
Many adults choose to deny what children accept without question. Compared to so vast a universe, we are but specks, lasting just a few moments in the grand sweep of eternity. And we are very fragile specks, at that. Just as children need the guidance of wise adults to gain a proper perspective of their place in the world, adults need the perspective of the One who put us here and has a plan for us in this world. Without our Creator’s perspective, these two points of view expose two sources of anxiety that, as adults, we have learned to cope with—and perhaps inappropriately.
The first is a crisis of significance. In a universe measured by eons and light-years, how can anything so small be of any importance? Should any of us die tomorrow, the stars will still burn, the planet will still turn, and very little will change on a global scale.
The second is a crisis of safety. The world is a very dangerous and unpredictable place. We feel it most as children, but learn to insulate ourselves from that fear as adults. On rare occasions, natural disasters or the death of someone close reminds us how fragile we really are. But we soon put those disquieting thoughts behind us and find distractions such as wealth, or achievement, or popularity—anything to create a sense of significance and safety.
As parents, if we are prepared with the right perspective, we can equip our children with a better way of thinking—one that faces grim facts about the world without self-delusion or the need for futile coping mechanisms. A biblical response to the crises of significance and safety points us to our need for a relationship with our almighty Provider and Protector. This can be expressed in two simple principles. Keeping both principles in mind will equip us and our children, to live victoriously while acknowledging our vulnerability.
The first principle: God created a vast and wondrous universe, but you are His delight.
The poet-king, David, composed a song about this mystery:When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:3–9)
Staring into the vastness of space, the psalmist realized an important truth. Our universe is measured by eons and light-years so, to the God who created it all, a person standing six feet tall may as well be six millimeters. From the vantage-point of heaven, indeed, we are all mere specks, yet each one a speck the almighty Creator treasured enough to die for.
Because the Creator of all things loves each of us individually, we possess immeasurable dignity and worth. Because almighty God values you, you are significant.
The second principle: Because the all-powerful God of the universe cares for us, we need not fear anything—even death.
Gideon is often used as a positive model for putting God’s will to the test in Judges 6:36–40, but this was not an act of faith. God had called Gideon to lead an army against the Midianites, who had invaded Israel, and had already promised him victory:
But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” (Judges 6:16)
Yet the timid leader doubted the promise of God. He required repeated omens and devised elaborate tests before obeying in simple faith. Gideon counted the soldiers in the Midianite army, compared that number to his own, and grew more and more fearful. But God met his fear head-on. In Judges 7:1–7, He whittled Gideon’s army down from 32,000 to a mere 300. According to verse 2, the Lord decreased the odds of victory, humanly speaking, in order to hand Gideon a divine victory.
The author of Romans states the principle this way. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, niv)
For a child, the world is big and dangerous, while he or she is small and helpless. Rather than deny the truth, acknowledge that life can be difficult, even perilous. As you reassure your children that you will be faithful to provide safety and wisdom, take the opportunity to shift their perspective. Teach them to see the world as it is, but help them to remember that their God is bigger than any danger they will ever face. And because He loves them, He will care for them, in every circumstance.
In fact, we might do well to reflect those truths ourselves!