This week, many Americans (and Canadians) who have been watching the US presidential election have been surprised, and discouraged, by the results. As I hear my friends, particularly the parents and grandparents of young children, reflect on the election’s outcome, I am hearing a loss for words about how to talk about this with children. It is in response to what I am hearing that I offer this devotion for parents. I hope it will encourage all of us to find, name, and live into the hope that we have in Christ.
Someone once told writer C.S. Lewis that he did not care enough about the Beatitudes. Lewis, surprised by this concern, responded with, “As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount, if ‘caring for’ here means ‘liking’ or ‘enjoying’, I suppose that no one ‘cares for’ it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledge hammer?”
In the Beatitudes, Jesus lays out the great reversal that marks the Christian life. For most of us, being "blessed" in this way feels like a sledge hammer to the face. We find it hard to understand why God’s blessings are experienced most powerfully in times of poverty, in places of suffering, and in moments of vulnerability. We wonder why descending into places where God seems to be least present, we often find ourselves precisely where God’s presence can be most dearly felt.
Yet the Beatitudes are meant to be an encouragement for us. In the Beatitudes, there are charges that get at the heart of God’s commands that we love God and one another.
- Reflect the light of God’s love. Just as the light of a candle stands out more brightly in the darkness, so does God’s love. The Belhar Confession puts it this way, “that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged.” We are called to testify to God’s Kingdom as lights in dark places.
- Embrace diversity. Differences are all too often characterized as obstacles to be overcome rather than blessings to be embraced. As different people, we most certainly read the world differently, through different lenses, and with different understandings. This is a gift. Our own vision of the world, and of God, is expanded in relationship with others.
- Be strong and courageous. God's call on us to go to the margins and to grieve with people can be painful. It certainly requires courage. But as we navigate those painful places, we have our God to lean on. In God's strength, we find the strength to love, embrace, and learn from those made in God’s image, in all of their differences and diversity.
Christ is clear: in the world we will have trouble. But as Christ’s followers, we can take heart, Christ has overcome this world!
Parents: Talk to your kids about what is going on. Talk about how you feel and about the hope that you have in Christ. Your kids may act like they don’t want to talk about it. They may play ignorant to the situation. But, trust me, they know, and they are watching you. This is an opportunity for you to testify to the source of your courage and your hope.
And please, take time to pray out loud together about this—it's a wonderful way to show kids that even when we as adults don't have answers and feel confused or afraid or unsure we can go to God in prayer and trust that God is still in charge. That's faith!