My grandson is now five years old, and he is increasingly aware of scary and dangerous things. Some are small fears—splinters, loud noises, and new children at the playground. But other fears are much more significant, like the fear of death. As he grows older, the number of scary and dangerous things he is exposed to will only grow—terrorism, cancer, calamities, etc. How can you help a young child run and trust in an “unseen” almighty God for his refuge? How can he be confident that God is a perfect refuge, even when he gets hurt or your house is damaged by a storm? One way is to talk about the concrete images that God has given us in Scripture: God is a strong tower, shield, fortress, rock, refuge…and more.
Below are some examples of texts and discussion questions to use with your children. (They are from the newly revised ABCs of God.) Maybe discuss one per day, or even one a week. Or, look for specific teachable moments when your child expresses fear over some circumstance.
- Read Proverbs 18:10. What words does the verse use to describe God’s name? [strong tower] What word does the verse use to show that you will be protected from harm? [safe] Next read Psalm 46:1. What word means that God is like a strong tower who will keep you safe? [refuge] How do you think that you get into this “strong tower” and “refuge”? Is there a special kind of door? Read John 10:9. The way to safety is through trusting in Jesus. Jesus is like a door. When you put your trust in Jesus, God becomes your refuge, a place of perfect safety forever. If you are trusting in Jesus, no matter where you are or what kind of danger you are in, you can find refuge by calling out to Jesus. Is there anything that you have felt worried about this week? How can we turn these verses into a prayer asking for God’s help?
- Ask your child to recall a time when he felt in danger and was scared of something. Ask: Did you try to find safety in something? What was it? Did it make you feel safe? Why or why not? Suppose you were outside at the park and a huge storm suddenly came with high winds, lightning, and hail stones. What would you try to do? Would standing under a tree be good? What about running to a car? A building? Can these things always keep you safe? Read Proverbs 18:10 and Psalm 46:1. How strong is the “tower” that God provides? [He is almighty. There is no one or nothing stronger than God.] To seek safety in God, do you need to run to a certain place, as in an actual building? What does it mean that God is a “very present help”? How does this make the refuge that God gives His people better than anything else? Was there a time in which you “ran to” God for safety and protection? What happened? Have there been any Bible verses that have helped you to feel God’s help in a time of trouble? [See verses such Psalm 18:2a; 34:22; 59:16b; 61:3; Psalm 62:7; John 14:1-3.]
- Show your child one of the following: a greeting card within an envelope; jewelry inside a box; a bag of candy. Damage the envelope, box, or bag in a way that does not damage the card, jewelry or candy. Use the illustration to help your child understand the true meaning of God being a refuge to His people. It does not mean that our bodies will always be kept safe from all physical harm. Our bodies are like the “outer covering” (the envelope, box, or bag). Our souls—our hearts and minds—the part of us that will last forever is like what was inside. God being a refuge means that He will always keep safe what is most important. Even though God is able to keep our bodies from all harm, He is also wise and sovereign and may allow physical harm for our spiritual good. Even death is not harmful for a Christian, because it is the way in which God brings His people into the eternal refuge of heaven. Talk about some of the great promises found in John 14:1-3 or Romans 8:38-39 and have a time a prayer with your child.
- Ask your child: Do you worry about physical harm? What makes it so scary? Do you ever worry about even more dangerous things like Satan and evil and your own sin? Do you ever feel afraid of God? Why or why not? Read Psalm 62:7. Do you think that David was talking mainly about protection and safety for his body? What is “salvation”? [God saving someone from their sin; being saved from the right punishment we deserve from God because of our sin] How can a person receive this kind of refuge—being kept safe forever from God’s anger at your sin? [through trusting in Jesus]