Politicians are apologizing to parents for shutting down public schools. This is due to the fact that parents have to be with their children 24/7 for an undetermined amount of time with the closures of these schools. In this season, families are “forced” to spend more and more time together as they weather out this viral storm and wait for it to pass.
Social media continues to express its deep concern for our physical health (as it should). And we all need to be doing our best to “stay at home,” practice safety, and consider the health recommendations of the government. But families that are so consumed with protecting the “physical health” of their loved ones may be missing out on the opportunity to minister spiritually to the souls in their own home.
We do not want to waste this time given by God to deepen our relationships with our family or to evangelize to our unbelieving loved ones. I do want to be sensitive, however, to the situation and remember that we are all going through this difficulty together. Everyone is off routine and everyone needs encouragement.
I’ve been trying to think of creative ways that we as families could redeem the time given to us by God. There are many ways that we can, as a family, can keep Christ in the forefront of our minds during this crisis. Here are some ideas on how we can serve our family:
1. Converse Well with Your Family. Talk to your family about their feelings. Ask how they are doing and how they are coping with the situation. Learn how you can serve them better. When you discuss the changes of life, make the quarantine discussion a “God-centered” conversation rather than “me-centered,” fleshly one. Explain God’s view of COVID-19 and the theology behind it. Talk about the brevity of life, sin and sickness, or how to serve others in need. Discuss compassion for the sufferings of all men or how Christians should approach politics biblically. Encourage your family to trust in Christ when money is sparse, or encourage them to serve their next door neighbors and to serve their friends working in the healthcare. Discuss your relationship with the local church and the reasons why church life has been affected but still continues even in difficulty. There are many good conversations to have!
2. Evangelize Your Family. Death is coming swiftly to many people, so to converse and to think upon death is not morbid or inappropriate, but is very healthy. Jonathan Edwards’ 9th resolution says this: “Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.” It’s good to think about the end of life because it provokes us to focus on what truly matters. Wisely urge your children and loved ones to come to Christ and to see Him as the only hope in life and death. Death will come to all whether by virus or by other means, and all will face judgment. Point them to person and work Christ who is the doorway to God the Father.
3. Pray for Your Family. Pray for your spouse and your children. Pray WITH your spouse and your children. Fast and pray on your own. Pray for your church, your neighbors, and those on the front lines. Take prayer requests together as a family and solicit requests from other church members. Pray through them together. May the Christians who come after us know that we were a praying people in this crisis.
4. Serve Your Church with Your Family. Show your family that service does not stop with a virus outbreak. Spiritual gifts don’t cease to exist because of a government order. It’s possible to be creative and to think of many ways to serve the church. In a world of selfish panic buying, teach your family, instead, to be givers of themselves, of their resources, and of their time. Parents, you can set the tone for the rest of your family, and your children will follow your lead. Will our children remember us as selfless or selfish people? The more you sacrifice yourself for God’s people, the more you look like Christ.
5. Develop Discernment in Your Family. This could fall under “conversing well,” but I think it needs to stand on its own. Families need discernment in this information age with all the different opinions floating out there. The iPhone in the child’s hand is a mobile pulpit, and they are being taught a worldview by someone. Guard their minds with biblical discernment, biblical principles, and wise safeguards. We don’t have to shelter them from the hard issues, but we can help them think through the issues and navigate the waters biblically.
6. Do Fun Things with Your Family. We’re so fixed on “missing out” in this season that we don’t realize what we’ve been given. We have been given time and opportunity. Some of us have extra time off from work, it’s a great opportunity to make good memories with your family by doing simple things like having walks, playing games, or laughing together. Or maybe you’re in a different scenario. Maybe the stress of life and the busyness has increased for you and your family. If that is the case, then spending quality family time is a greater necessity in this season of anxiety and pain. Life can be full of depression already, so we don’t have to add to it. Be intentional and creative about doing fun things with the family. Mix up the days and do something different and memorable, rather than allowing the circumstances to master you.
7. Read the Bible with Your Family. Spiritual instruction for families should take place even in a coronavirus-free society. Talking about Christ is time never wasted. Read Bible passages sequentially, read children’s books/Bibles, or read topical verses that relate to the situation. Try to memorize passages or study specific Scriptures together. These actions will display to our family that in times of crisis, we turned to God instead of self. While the world is looking within themselves, or to government, or to science for lasting solutions, we know that the eternal solution is found only in the Lord. Turn to the Word for wisdom.
We will remember much from this time in our world’s history. When our family remembers us during this time, how will they remember our response? Will they remember that we stocked our garage full of toilet paper? Will they remember that we gave up hope and cynically critiqued the government all day long? Or will they remember us glued to our smart phone as an escape and ignored them completely?
My prayer is that they will remember how we pointed them to Christ as the only hope, and that we fell on our knees in petitioned prayer to God for mercy and guidance. May they remember us as a Christ-centered people who loved the church selflessly and served their fellow man with Gospel love. May we be remembered as lovers of God both in calm and in crisis.