teaching children to fear God and trust Him during a storm

We had severe thunderstorms with tornado sightings close by just a couple nights ago.

The kids know what the tornado sirens mean and are simultaneously excited and scared when they hear them.  On Saturday they rushed around grabbing their most beloved stuffed animals before racing downstairs to watch Dave Dahl and the weather radar on channel 5 (Dave is hands-down the best weather guy in the Twin Cities).

The sky turned dark and things seemed very still as we waited for the wind and rain.  Then it was upon us.  I could see our birch tree in front bent over practically in half.

Here’s an opportunity to help our kids fear God and trust Him.  And here’s a list of ways to do that:

1) Affirm that, yes, God is behind this storm.  He created and controls the weather.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Isaiah 44:24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself..

2) Affirm that, yes, the weather is scary and God is not a pansy God.  He is not gumdrops and sugarplums.  He is to be feared.  He holds our lives and tornadoes in His hands.

Psalm 66:16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.

Psalm 40:3 Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

3) This storm is an expression of God’s love and grace for those who are in Christ Jesus.  This is not God’s wrath on us, even if it were to topple our home and take our lives.  We are protected from His wrath, because when we trust in Jesus and His work on the cross, we are now counted righteous and beloved in Christ.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 5:9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

4) God is gracious, not only to His children, but to all people.  We can thank Him for His common grace in things like weather radars and tornado sirens and basements and cell phones and flash lights.

Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

5) As we rightly fear God, we are pushed to trust Him and run to Him for refuge.  Our God is a refuge.  He is an ever-present Help in times of trouble.

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

6) Our God, the ever-present Help, hears us as we call to Him in prayer.  What an opportunity for kids to find their comfort in God as they pray to Him amid strong feelings of fear.

Psalm 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

I think the temptation we have as parents is to say to our kids, “It’s ok.  Nothing bad is going to happen.  God will protect us from this storm.”  Which, on the concrete level that kids operate on, is unmistakably false and deep down they know it.

They know that we can’t guarantee that the storm won’t knock our house down.  They’re children, they’re not stupid.

On a deeper level, it’s true, but incomplete.  “Nothing bad is going to happen.. because we trust that even things we feel as bad, God is working for our good for those who love Him.”  And, “God will protect us from this storm.. because we trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and salvation of our soul even if we were to die tonight.”

My challenge as a parent is to gently show them the true God of the Bible and not make up a God that is palatable for them (or me).  They need to see that God is to be feared and trusted.  They need to be in awe of God as they run to hide in the shadow of His wing.

If they don’t get this when they’re young, making sense of the fearsome acts of the Old Testament may shake their faith as adults.  And Jesus’ bold and penetrating way of talking in the New Testament will be indecipherable for them.

Our children watch us to see how we respond in scary situations.  So, perhaps the biggest thing we can do is give them a peek at what’s going on inside of us.  Let them see that our faith is not theoretical, it’s real.

Here’s a photo of a bad storm from 2 summers ago.  We had to replace our siding, but the kids thought the hail was amazing!!!