Do you remember climbing into bed with your parents in the middle of the night after you’d had a bad dream? Or maybe it was fear of a spider, a monster under your bed or the dark that sent you scrambling for the solace of a strong, comforting adult. If you are the parent of a young child right now, you may find this happening in your home lately. Stress and anxiety can show up in all kinds of ways in children: irritability, defiance, clinginess, whining, and even regression to less mature ways of coping.
Even if you are not a parent or your children are grown, you can draw some helpful parallels here. The fact is, adults who are struggling to cope in a world of uncertainties can also become irritable, defiant, clingy, whine a little (or a lot) and regress to less mature ways of coping!
As parents of young children, we can take our cues from God in how to help our children. As children of God we know we can run to our Father when we need Him. “Because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Galatians 4:6) It’s OK for your kids to need a little “extra” from you sometimes. We also need time to be with our Father, to cling a little tighter to Him, and to feel the peace of His arms wrapped around us. I am still amazed that He wants us to come, that He made a way for us to come through our Savior, Jesus, and I can say, “As for me it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge.” Psalm 73:28
We want to allow our children to share their emotions, even the ugly ones. A lot of their worries come from not having the experience, understanding and perspective to make sense of the world around them. Sound familiar? Kindness, love, and compassion are what we all need to feel secure. Bring your worries and emotions (yes, even the ugly ones) to your Heavenly Father who loves you and understands that you, also, struggle with unanswered questions and a lack of perspective. Of course, God does have the understanding and perspective we seek, but just as important to us is his lovingkindness and acceptance of us in our weakness. “The Lord is like a Father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For He knows how weak we are, he remembers that we are only dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14)
We are instructed to come to Him with all that concerns us. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Children tend to do this well. They “cast” or “throw off” what’s bothering them pretty easily when they have a parent they can trust. Once they have unloaded their burdens and are comforted, they are quick to run off and play again, with a cheerful heart, believing that their problem has been taken care of. We have that invitation from the Lord, too. Give Him your worries and trust Him to take care of you because He loves you.
Our heavenly Father provides us with predictability, security, comfort, acceptance, and peace. When the night is long and fear is lurking, when you need rest for your anxious thoughts, or you just need to be reminded that you are loved by your Abba Father, He invites you to cling to Him tightly and come to Him often!
Vero Bible Fellowship Children's Ministries Director