I don’t know about you but I find challenges in life difficult to manoeuvre especially the unexpected ones but even these can send me reeling. Just recently, my dear brother, Mark, died and even though the lung cancer was eating his body, I didn’t expect him to go quite so quickly even without saying goodbye. He lived in Sydney with his growing family and so even conversations were limited and impossible towards the end of his life. So now that he is gone, there is the challenge to keep trusting God who gave and has taken away. Job (in the Bible) suffered many tragedies and losses but he was able to say ‘Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) We can either get bitter or better and rely on God for strength and new joy as we face more challenges in life.
The challenges of daily living can present hardships particularly for the elderly or disabled who have to steer clear of literal physical obstacles to keep upright or the harrassed mum who has a screaming baby to respond to. The challenges presented by people we see on our TV screens that are going through so many unexpected happenings such as the people in Freetown, Sierra Leone, with that awful mud slide that has taken away so many lives. We can’t understand why things happen the way they do but we can still trust the Answer to our problems that life presents.
What would be a challenge for one person may not be a challenge for another because we are made so differently from one another, each being unique on this planet. How the love of God needs to spread from one to another to enable the challenges to be overcome and manageable in the process.
Children have challenges that they often do not express. The challenge of starting school; moving into a different class, moving schools; adapting to Mum and Dad living apart; feeling hungry; feeling vulnerable; feeling unsafe; being bullied. How we adults need the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit to discern these challenges and give advice, help and support where and when needed. Children can have an anchor for their lives just like we adults can, being rooted and grounded in the truths of God that bring so much security. Through each challenge God proves that He is unchanging and is the same yesterday, today and forever (see Hebrews 13:8). No wonder the writer of Deuteronomy advocates teaching children the commandments of God diligently and telling them when they are at home, when they are away, when they are resting and when they are working (see Deuteronomy 6:7) even going so far as tying these commandments on their wrists and foreheads so that they would never forget. The law of commands is summed up by Jesus who said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your atrength and love your neighbour as you love yourself” (See Matthew 22:37). As we and our children focus on God’s great love for us, then the challenges can be part of daily living and need not always take us by surprise. We and they can turn the challenges into prayer so that God can intervene more easily into situations.
May the words that children read be a help in the challenges they face, so that they can be overcomers and grow into maturity as they step over one hurdle after another.