© 2020 Bianca Ndlovu / Harvest City Church

Most of us have heard the phrase ‘back in my day’ or ‘when I was a kid’ from the older generation, followed by ‘music was real music not this noise you listen to’, or ‘we had some respect’, or ‘we played outside we didn’t have all these gadgets you have now’. Now that I am a mum, I feel that sentence creeping up on me in my mind. I can honestly say I haven’t said it to my kids, but I have thought it and may have muttered it to my husband. The world really is different now than when we were young.

So many things have changed, but some things are present in every generation – love, family, the need for hope for the future, as well as worry, fear, uncertainty and troubled times. I am sure if you speak to the generation before you they could tell you about some of the hard times they went through.

Charles Dickens made an observation of earlier age: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…’ I think this could be said about this season we are in. Solomon’s famous phrase in Ecclesiastes 1:9 comes to mind: ‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.’

So, how do you raise a young family in a fear-filled world? My answer is look at how the generation before you have handled hard times, replicate the things they have done well and avoid the mistakes they made. To us, how the world is now feels new because we have never been in a season like this one. But uncertainty, worry, fear and living in crisis is not new.

So I learnt from those who have gone before me to pray and speak God’s Word over my children’s lives and over our family as a whole. We should be able to trust God with everything – even the things that seem small and insignificant, but especially the things we have no control over. No parent can be with their child 24/7 (well, unless you are in lockdown!).

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7-8)

My husband and I have two beautiful, energetic and inquisitive girls (fancy way of saying they ask a lot of questions; all-day, everyday) who are three- and six-years-old.

Six years ago, when we had our first child and the angels (family members) who came to help went back to their lives and left us with our little baby, we quickly realised that no-one was going to walk in and raise the child. That was our responsibility now. A little bit of fear crept in and I was worried about keeping the poor little thing alive. She had no idea that we had no idea what we were doing, but all jokes aside it was a real fear.

After nine months it was time for me to go back to work and I had to trust the nursery teachers (who were perfect strangers) to look after our little princess, which was even scarier. I worried for a while, but then I had the realisation that I am not leaving her in their care. Wherever she is, she is in God’s hands. Whether with us or with someone else, it’s God who looks after her.

Psalm 91 has been the go-to scripture when praying for God’s protection over our children. I recommend you read all of it if you have never read it (or have not read it lately) but here are some verses that stand out to me.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:9-11)

At the age of 11 I chose to make the Lord my dwelling place, and I know He sends His angels to watch over me. And that now extends to my children.

Another reason why I choose to have faith in God in times of fear is because kids are good at reading emotions. If we walked around our house being negative and afraid, they would pick up on that. We choose to speak positive words and encourage them to not be afraid. Life as they knew it has changed and that could make them feel a little anxious. People walk around with masks and don’t smile at each other anymore. They can’t visit their grandparents and friends. School is closed and when they are outside they need to step away from anyone who comes near them. What a strange world for a child to navigate.

Our response as a family was to encourage them and let them know that even though things have changed there was no need to be scared. We focus on the positives. We get to spend more time together. We worshipped together as a family on Sunday and Tuesday but also connected with the church family through video calls. We started having prayer, worship and Bible story sessions before bed everyday as a family which the girls really look forward to.

By encouraging our kids we also felt encouraged and our faith increased. We cannot teach them something we don’t believe. One thing that kids grasp which amazes me is that they believe God can do absolutely anything. It also amazes me that as adults we don’t believe – even it with all our Bible knowledge and years of being Christians. That childlike faith (Luke 18:17) is encouraging and sometimes your kids will say things that remind you how powerful God is. I remember when I was younger my little brother wanted gold teeth and we asked him how he was going to get them. He simply said, ‘God can do it; He can do anything’.

My desire is that our children and the next generation will learn to face times of uncertainty with strength, hope and faith that they find in God because they saw it from us, just like we saw it from the generations before us.

After the summer holidays we eventually had to leave our little lockdown bubble and the girls returned to nursery and school, and again we were faced with something we could not control so we left it to God. We got together as a family and we prayed (and continue to pray), and I can see that faith rising up in our six-year-old as she prays for God to take the virus away.

The best way to raise a young family in times like this – and at all times, actually – is to stand together on God’s Word.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)