The coronavirus crisis now affects almost every person and infrastructure on the planet. However, in spite of its enormous implications for human health, the economy, politics, and beyond, this virus holds the potential to impact one entity more than any other: the individual family.
In dozens of countries, families are nestling into their homes—whether by choice or by force. Countless schools closed their doors indefinitely, giving millions of children hours of unfilled time which they (and their parents) seem at a loss to fill. Sports canceled their seasons. Every day more businesses send their employees home. Churches in many areas transitioned to online services and canceled all their extra ministries. Many governments are urging—or demanding—that citizens remain inside their houses.
All of this means that parents and children are stuck at home together, possibly for a long time.
People are responding to this reality—new to many—in various ways. Many parents took to social media to complain. Others proclaimed that they suddenly had a newfound respect for homeschool parents, comparing them to superheroes. Tragically, one North Texas hospital told CBS News that they have seen a significant rise in child abuse cases since the pandemic began.1
However, others are choosing to view this time as an opportunity to reach into children’s lives with something worthwhile. A post from one source was shared on Facebook more than 70,000 times:
It seems a little ridiculous to me that people are so afraid that their children are going to miss a whole month of learning. How about using this month to teach them how to cook, check the oil in the car, do laundry, treat others with respect, sew on a button, deep clean, balance a checkbook, etc. Not all learning is done in a classroom!
If even those in the secular world are striving to use this opportunity, how much more should believers view this as an unprecedented chance to bring glory to our God? How much more should the church long to grow in Him through this and to see our children and loved ones do the same?
Recently Tim Challies—Christian author, blogger, and book reviewer—made contact with some Christians in Italy, who wrote to him about their experience in the country hit hardest by the current crisis.2
“My prayer is for wisdom to know how to navigate this moment,” one pastor and father wrote. He explained that he wants to “appreciate the increased opportunities to grow in shepherding my wife and children.” He goes on to say that he is trying to use the coronavirus situation to point people back to the fact that as humans we are mortal and were created for God’s glory.
Challies also quotes a mother in Italy who is striving to take her parenting role seriously in the midst of the crisis. She says that her children seem calm about the situation right now, but she can tell they know something big is happening around them. “It is a good opportunity to talk to them in a deeper way about Jesus,” she told Challies.
Is this our first thought when we look at the situation we find ourselves in—whether it’s the current coronavirus outbreak or any other situation that arises in our lives?
When local or national authorities put more regulations in place, do we see it as an inconvenience or as an opportunity to talk to our family and others about the unchanging joy we have in Christ, regardless of circumstances?
As the virus numbers add up rapidly each day, do we respond to that with crippling fear and worry, or do we remind our loved ones that our sovereign God uses ALL things for His ultimate glory and our ultimate good (Romans 8:28)?
When children and other family members watch us, do they see someone who is impatiently waiting for life to get back to normal, or do they see a disciple of Jesus Christ who is seizing each moment He puts in their life and striving to use it for His glory?
We have been handed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to impact the next generation. For at least a few weeks, millions of families are stuck inside four walls.
It’s up to each of us to decide whether those walls will be a prison filled with the stench of our own sinful responses, or a palace we are building for our King.
1. North Texas Hospital Reports Spike In Severe Child Abuse Cases; Believe Linked To Stress From Coronavirus Pandemic. 11/21 CBSDFW. Posted on dfw.cbslocal.com March 20, 2020.
2. Challies, T. More Tips on Living in Lockdown from Christians in Italy. Challies. Posted on challies.com March 22, 2020.
*Lauren Pennington is Volunteer Coordinator at the ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History.