Written by Amy Richards
One of the most vivid memories I have of quarantine is marking off the events that I had so carefully calendared. Soccer games, choir concerts, and family vacations all disappeared with the stroke of a black Sharpie. When I was done, all that remained were birthdays and the first day of school.
Now with the start of school less than a month away, I catch myself in quiet moments feeling both apprehensive and hopeful. I look at my 6-year-old son and wonder if he will actually get to complete his first year of school since kindergarten was cut short. I look at my 4-year-old daughter who desperately wants to play Mary in her preschool Christmas play and wonder if she will get the chance.
In the midst of these uncertain times, we crave the concrete and the controllable. But as we have all discovered since mid-March, there is very little in this life that is certain.
However, Matthew reminds us in his Gospel that, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35 NIV). So, I have returned again and again to God’s Word, and specifically his promises to find assurance during these uncertain times. I know that he will do what he says he will do and I can rest in that.
In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul encourages Timothy with four specific promises that I have chosen to claim this school year.
- God did not give you a spirit of fear.
I don’t have to fear because God’s Word lights my way in the darkness
Many children will come back to school this fall with a new friend named “fear” by their side. And as parents, “fear” may be our closest companion as we release our kids back into an environment where there are more questions than answers and where risks abound.
Fear acts like a cloud, plunging us into darkness that seems to envelop us. However, as believers in Jesus, we don’t have to fear the darkness, nor do we have to walk in it. Psalm 119: 105 tells us that God’s Word is “a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
I don’t have to fear because God’s Word lights my way in the darkness. For me, this begins with spending time daily in God’s word-reading, studying, and memorizing it. When I do, I find that the darkness lifts, and I can see clearly once again. What scared me before is now put into perspective, and I can say with the Psalmist, “the LORD is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1).
Now, when my children come to me with their fears, I don’t have to worry about how I will assuage them. I can open God’s Word and point them to Jesus, who says of himself “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). I can trust him to light their darkness and calm their fears just as he promised.
- God gave you a spirit of power.
As a believer, I am not powerless because the Holy Spirit lives within me
I have felt powerless many times over these last months, and perhaps you have too. However, God’s word reminds me that while I may feel that way, I am not powerless. As a believer in Jesus, the same “Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in [me]” (Romans 8:11). Any power that I have comes not from my strength or my accomplishments, but from the Holy Spirit living in me.
This school year, I choose to surrender my circumstances to the Lord. I choose to trust that God’s power is at work in me even when I don’t feel like it is. In moments of weakness I will cling to God’s words when Paul asked the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh, “my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
When my kids come to me with a problem that seems insurmountable, I am better equipped to share my own weaknesses with them. I can specifically share stories from quarantine of when I thought “I just can’t do it” or “this is impossible, I’ll never make it through” and point them to Jesus. I can testify to them that he gave me power to overcome difficult situations, and if he did it for me, he will do it for them.
- God gave you a spirit of love.
God’s love shines brightly through us when we practice forgiveness
I know that when I’m thrust into an uncomfortable or unknown situation for an extended period of time, my sin nature rears its ugly head. I have seen this in myself over and over again during quarantine as I have had to ask my husband and children for forgiveness.
While the list of my shortcomings seems only to grow longer, I take great encouragement from Paul’s words which tell me that love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Put another way by Corrie ten Boom, “When we confess our sins . . .God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever . . .[and] then places a sign out there that says, NO FISHING ALLOWED” (ten Boom, Corrie. Tramp for the Lord. New York: Jove Books Corrie ten Boom, Jove Books, 1974. Print.).
Like it or not, the world is watching how we as believers act during these difficult days. Our children are watching too. By regularly confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness, we show them what Biblical, agape love looks like. We have to opportunity to open our Bibles to 1 Corinthians 13 and show them that “while mommy wasn’t patient,” God’s perfect love is always patient, “while mommy didn’t use kind words,” God’s perfect love is always kind.
As we show our children what God’s love looks like through forgiveness, using the everyday situations from our home, we equip them to take the characteristics of God’s perfect love back into their classrooms. As they forgive those who have wronged them, they are able to shine brightly for Jesus.
- God gave you a spirit of self-control/discipline.
I must exercise self-control over what I say and whether I say anything at all
The Bible mentions the “tongue” over 85 times. Scripture is replete with verses warning of the destructive power of the tongue, and James goes so far as to say “no human being can tame the tongue” (James 3:8). A believer can have their witness all but destroyed in an instant with a careless word or a critical comment.
What my children see me do and hear me say will have a profound impact on how they react and respond to difficult people and situations they will face. Instead of hearing words of criticism and critique, I want my children to hear words of life, words that are consistent with Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians to “not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
Knowing that my tongue is a “restless evil, full of deadly poison,” I must choose, for it is a choice, to exercise self-control, over what I say and whether I say anything at all (James 3:8). I must submit every word to the Lord and cry out with the Psalmist, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
Jesus told the Pharisees that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34). I want my children to see a mom whose heart is so full of Jesus, that Jesus overflows into every conversation she has.
I have chosen to claim and pray these four promises from 2 Timothy 1:7 this year. I invite you to do the same and to wait with eager anticipation to see how God will answer them in your life and in that of your children.