In my work with children, I highly value the concept of wondering: the ability to be curious, to ponder and question something, and maybe even to doubt.
This ability to wonder is one of the beautiful things that children can teach us in life. Children have an innate sense of wonder in the present moment—the things they are experiencing in life, big events that occur, the people they encounter, and the relationships they have. Wonder and the ability to ask questions is a significant way children make meaning of life.
As the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading, my husband and I started realizing what was happening and how it would impact our lives. I will admit, I became fearful. I got really scared. And because wondering is a spiritual habit for me, in the midst of all that fear, I started wondering what it might have been like for people in the Bible when they were scared.
I wonder how Mrs. Noah kept her sanity as she “sheltered in place” with her entire family and all those animals in a boat as a storm raged around her.
I wonder if this fear I am feeling is similar to what the Israelites felt when they waited for the Angel of Death to pass over in the land of Egypt.
I wonder what great and mighty acts of God the Israelites might have seen when they passed through the Red Sea on dry land. What did they learn of God’s love and grace during such a terrifying time?
That last wondering has stuck with me. What can you learn of God’s love and grace during a frightening time?
When the governor of Illinois ordered citizens to shelter in place about three weeks ago, my husband and I decided we were going to look for God in the midst of this hard and terrifying time by keeping a list of the things we are thankful for, both simple things and also the big things.
Sometimes we write down a God-sighting: something amazing where we saw God in the midst of our day. This list is written on Post-It notes that we adhere to a door in our home. The list grows as we post at least once a day and sometimes multiple times. This has been an amazing experience. I have realized how grateful I am for a simple cup of milk (especially with oatmeal cookies). I have seen God use a project that I worked on over a year ago become exactly what a children’s ministry leader needed in their ministry yesterday.
And now as I watch spring slowly begin to emerge here in Chicagoland, I am beginning to understand how many generations have yearned and longed for a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no more death, no more mourning or crying or pain. Oh, how I yearn now for this old order to pass away.
In Joshua 1, God tells Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” To be completely honest, I am not feeling very strong or courageous right now. But we can all be on the watch for God in the quiet or overlooked areas of life. I encourage us all to keep our eyes open for God and the gifts God has given us. As we do this, we will see that God is with us wherever we go.
That is what gives me courage. While I might want to say that God is not here in the midst of a pandemic, the truth is that God IS here. May we all have eyes to see that.
Mimi Larson is Faith Formation Ministries’ Children's Ministry Catalyzer. If you have questions or challenges about faith formation in children, welcoming children in worship, choosing curriculum, equipping volunteers, and more, contact Mimi at [email protected].