To many, the news of closing schools came with very little warning. Families have been forced to struggle with work and the question of what to do with their children now that schools are closed.
Added to their concern for their children, work has taken on new stress not only because of the new demands of social distancing but also a decrease or, in some places, an increased workload. Some are completely out of work, and others are seeing their nest egg shrink, putting retirement or funds for their child’s education farther in the future. Families are facing a “new normal” that isn’t feeling very comfortable and certainly not normal.
Addressing the physical and social challenges that the COVID- 19 virus has placed upon families is important and so is keeping faith alive and strong. Psalm 46:1 has some encouraging words for us when the author writes:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
We are in times of trouble. What are ways that families can find that strength and help?
It seems that the airwaves are filled with the latest news about the coronavirus. Statistics are continually being updated and all are indicating an extensive spreading of the virus. News articles are being dominated by reports and breaking news articles with the latest information. All this chatter and overload of data can be overwhelming and depressing. In the midst of the noise the Psalmist would tell us to “be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. In other words, take some personal time to quiet the voices and listen to God. Your spouse or children may be looking to you for spiritual guidance so now is the time for you to take time with God.
In order to help your family, it’s important that you have taken time yourself to receive your strength and help from God. This can be done through personal Bible reading, meditation, and prayer. Years ago, I heard about a personal meditation practice that has been of great benefit to people. It is a simple but effective way to mediate and let God speak to you through His Word. The practice involves picking a section of scripture and slowly reading it, thinking about each verse you read. When you come across one that is particularly meaningful to you, stop reading and contemplate deeply on what it is saying. Pray about it as you close your personal reflection. There is no rush. There is no time constraint. There is no number of verses that you should read. It is being still.
In these times of quarantine or social distancing it might be tempting to let your children spend extra time on their phone or computer. However, it is also an opportunity for your family to draw closer to each other, not only physically and emotionally, but also spiritually.
I spoke with one person who told me that she and her husband used to have daily devotions privately but now have decided that they wanted to read the Bible and pray together. They have included their son in their devotion time. It has helped them grow closer together as a couple and as a family. There are many devotional resources available online, or your Pastor may have some suggestions for you.
Concordia Publishing House is offering some free downloadable resources for families at these sites:
Children can be confused when they hear reports coming in on the news and as they hear adults talking about the effect that the pandemic is having on them. They see the empty store shelves and realize that school is closed because something serious is happening, but they might not understand it and that can cause them to feel unsettled. This is a time to remind them, as the Psalm 46 says in verse 2 & 7 “Therefore we will not fear… the Lord of hosts is with us.” It is reassuring for a family to come together with faith and confidence in God. Parents can take advantage of this when they talk about their fears and remember to also talk about their faith assuring them that they know and believe that God is with them.
Many churches have suspended worship services, Bible Studies, and other opportunities for Christians to gather and support each other; however, they have begun other ways to stay connected. It is a reminder that the church is not just a building, but it is also people connected by Jesus. It is possible for your family to “attend church” in your living room via livestreaming. Sitting together as a family and participating in the livestreaming service can keep you connected to your church, and at the same time, bond your family together.
Most churches have Facebook pages, and some have a website and email list to keep you connected. Pastors are sending messages to their people in additional ways. There is a hunger for positive news and even humor recently on online and that is being met by individuals lifting spirits in their posts. People are finding creative ways to share the hope and trust that they have in God. This pandemic is providing many opportunities for people to share Jesus’ love in new and creative ways that will have an impact on others for years to come. Your Church’s Facebook page, or website, is a place to go in order to keep connected and find uplifting and comforting news.
Involve your family in being the Church to others. Reach out to members of your church family who are not able get out for groceries or other needed supplies. You also might find some are feeling isolated where they are living and appreciate a phone call, an email, or a letter showing that you care. You might be the vehicle that God uses for his “presence and help.” Psalm 46 V. 1
Psalm 46 ends with the words v. 11 “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Keep these words in your heart, to give you peace, as you keep yourself and your family firmly focused on the Lord.
Rev. Michael Wolfram
Congregational Services & Ministry Support – Lutheran Family Service
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