No Guarantees

I'm pretty sure my 7-year-old has the flu -- you know the fever, achy, coughing flu. She's staying home again today, and I'm praying that she can stay fever free. She's missed an entire week of school, and she may miss her hockey games tomorrow (can't wait for the drama that announcement is going to create). This wasn't supposed to happen.

You see, back in October, my whole family got the flu shot to protect us from just this scenario. My husband marched the girls into the doctor's office and dealt with all the drama that goes along with taking two little girls to get a shot. He walked out with two girls who were protected from the ravages of the flu for the year.

Except they weren't. The flu shot only covers scientists' best guesses as to the strains of flu that will be in circulation that year. Sometimes they're wrong, and even those people who get the shot get the flu. This appears to be one of those years in our house.

This whole episode with illness reminded me of a question my youngest asked in the car the other day. She wanted to know if being a Christian meant we were protected from bad stuff. At first, I thought, "Where did she get that idea?" but then I realized that this is a common misperception. Sometimes we think that being a Christ-follower is like getting the flu shot in that it will protect us from something bad happening to us. That's simply not true.

God doesn't promise us a life that is free of challenges and trials. As a matter of fact, Jesus said "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). He promises us peace in our troubles, but He does not promise us a life without trouble.

Help your kids get their minds and hearts around this concept:

  • When tough things happen to your kids, and you hear the inevitable, "That's not fair," talk with your kids about how God didn't promise that life would be fair. Share John 16:33 with them. Ask them what they think peace is. Help them to understand that God is with us even when life gets tough. Talk about how God's grace and peace gives us strength to get through the tough situations.
  • Write down some good things and some bad things on slips of paper. Put them in a bag or a hat and have your kids take turns drawing them out. When they draw out a slip, ask them how they would feel if that event happened to them. Remind them that during the good times in our lives, we should be thankful, and during the bad times, we can rely on God to give us peace.

When tough times come, remember that being a Christ-follower is not a cure-all for everything that ails us. We shouldn't expect life to suddenly be easy. We should simply expect a life filled with grace and peace -- even when times are tough.