My oldest daughter, Serena, sniffled, "I thought you and Dad would stay together forever. How come Jesus didn't answer my prayers?" She sat on the edge of the bed, tears rolling down her face. I felt helpless. Not only was this a family crisis, for Serena, it had become a crisis of faith as well. She needed to know that Jesus was still with her. She needed Jesus to be real.
Most families will experience emotionally painful situations or difficult transitions at some point. Our challenge as parents is to help our children manage these hard times while at the same time showing them that the Lord is trustworthy.
It's not easy to allow our children to have their doubts. But there are steps we can take to get more comfortable with their search for the Jesus who will be real in their lives.
First, be vulnerable with God. We each must be willing, like King David, to say, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139: 23-24). Confess your sins but, as author Corrie Ten Boom wrote, "Put up a sign [in your heart] saying no fishing allowed." In other words, don't dig up all your wrongful ways. Our Lord truly chooses not to remember.
Second, remember that little eyes never stop watching us! Our children intuitively know when we're phony or incongruous in what we say and do. If we say we trust God, we must reflect that in our willingness to accept the path God sends us down. When we make mistakes, our children need to see us repent and apologize, especially when we've hurt them.1