Recently my husband and I read Jonathan Cahn’s book The Harbinger, so we’re attuned to the signals of a “shaking” coming in our country. Financial markets are tanking as we near the Shemitah, just as Cahn warned might happen. [Editorial note: the current 7-year Shemitah cycle, based on the ancient Hebrew calendar, ended Sunday September 13, 2015. The Dow Jones average has dropped more than 10% since its peak 4 months ago.] We’re worried about another big terrorist attack, or God using other means to judge the nation. We discovered quite a few other Christian friends were looking at this, too, so we’ve been talking about this a lot. But I was getting ready to go on a business trip this week and my 10 and 14-year-old daughters got hysterical and asked me not to get on the plane “in case it blows up.” I didn’t realize they had been paying so much attention and absorbing everything we were talking about. How can I calm their fears and yet not downplay that we are worried that something big might happen?
-Watching and wondering
There’s a difference between watching and being fearful, and from your kids’ reaction it sounds like you may have crossed that line.
Let me take a moment and make clear that I’m not downplaying that there is something worth watching here. I’m an analyst. I used to work on Wall Street. There’s a clear trend for many decades where wealth is lost near or at the end of the Shemitah year. Even the most secular traders notice the trend toward a seven-year-cycle. And from a Judeo-Christian perspective, if we have been ignoring God’s command to tithe, release wealth and keep the “Sabbath year” (the Shemitah), it makes sense that God could be forcing the matter if we won’t. It also makes sense that God could – as in Old Testament days – shake our economic and even physical security to get our attention and draw us to repentance.
So yes, there is something worth watching. But nothing is worth living in fear. And being fearful is just as great of a lack of trust in God as a lack of tithing. I love what Jesus said, as he was preparing his disciples for his death, resurrection and all the difficulties to come: “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”
So yes, there may be difficulties to come. But in looking ahead at the unknown, God says our lives should be marked by peace. That is what we should be showing our kids: that we are able to trust and have a settled confidence in him even when scary things could happen.
So how do you help your kids do that, and calm their fears now that they have them?
The most important thing you and your husband can do for your kids right now is to come to that peace for yourselves. Kids follow the signals of their parents. When my kids were small, there were times they would fall and hurt themselves… and would instinctively look for my reaction in order to know how bad it was, and how much they should cry. You ever see that? Well, essentially the same thing is going on today.
Instead of signaling that we definitely have a big, huge shaking coming –since no-one can know that! – talk to your kids about the fact that we can’t know the future. Only God can.
Instead of signaling that we are helpless in the face of uncertainty, remind them that God is a big God, and we can trust him. Remind your kids of the times in the Bible where God miraculously provided, saved or looked after his people. And make a family project of doing basic emergency preparedness steps, such as the Red Cross recommendations that every family be ready with three days of food, water, etc, in the event of natural disasters or other disruptions. Even better: go beyond the three-day supply in order to make a point of being prepared to help others, rather than just yourselves.
If your children continue to bring up specific bad things that could happen, remember that many kids don’t grasp the concept of probability, and will subconsciously tend toward the idea that if (for example), a plane is taken down by a terrorist attack, that means it will be your plane taken down. Give them tools to help them confront those fears. For example, perhaps open an online flight tracker map of the thousands of planes in the air at any one time, and say, “See all these little planes? And this is just a tiny number of the flights happening today… and tomorrow… and the day after that…. See how small the chances are of something bad happening to any one flight?”
Yes, there is certainly a possibility that God could look bring a shaking to our nation. After all, every one of us can come up with ways we’ve strayed, and God is clear that it is his people who must lead the way in repentance. (See 2 Chronicles 7:14.) But that also gives us the opportunity to talk to our kids about something far more important than prospects or preparedness: we can make sure they know that a shaking is ultimately designed to focus our hearts on him. Ask your kids to brainstorm ways God could use all things to work together for good, even in difficult situations. (“Maybe people who haven’t trusted in God will have no choice but to trust Him?”)
And by your calm response to that conversation, you will be showing them that you have found that peace that they are looking for — and help them to find it, too.
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Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage, and her newest book, Through A Man’s Eyes. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her ﬁndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.