“I don’t want to lose Chuck, mom,” my boy quietly said as I tucked him in bed.
“I don’t want to either, buddy,” I answered, my mind trying to piece together an appropriate response.
Chuck is the Executive Pastor at our church. He’s fighting for his life in ICU with pneumonia, a secondary infection from COVID-19.
We’ve been praying for Chuck’s healing for several weeks. Last night our church hosted a Zoom prayer time for anyone who wanted to pray together for our beloved pastor and friend. My husband was on the call in our bedroom. Then toward the end of the meeting, my kids and I went in and watched. We listened to a worship song, then heard our lead pastor give his closing thoughts.
There were over 100 people in little squares on our screen. Many I recognized and some I didn’t know. All of us joined side-by-side, thanks to technology, to pray in unison for Chuck’s healing.
I’m glad my children saw this atypical form of worship — a prayer gathering displaying the gift of the family of God.
After waving our goodbyes, the call ended, and my four kiddos scurried off to brush teeth and get into bed. It was when I told my 11-year old goodnight that he told me he didn’t want to lose Chuck.
With my feet on the second rung of the bunk bed, I reminded my boy that many people are praying for Pastor Chuck right now, and God hears all of our prayers.
But I didn’t stop there — because I wanted to speak truth into the tension of faith. I don’t want to sugarcoat circumstances or just slap a “pray about it” sticker on tough situations. This was a teaching moment, and I wanted to respond in a way that would help my boy in his faith.
So, I told him that we know God can heal Chuck. We are praying for healing, and we believe God can do it for his glory. But if He doesn’t…
My boy’s blue eyes met mine. “We’ll see him in heaven,” he said with a smile.
Yes we will, son. Yes, we will.
It’s often hard to navigate conversations with our children. We consider how much to share, age-appropriate information, and how the truth will impact their hearts. We often tiptoe around difficult topics — those that even as adults we don’t fully understand, much less have the vocabulary to articulate to our kids.
I don’t have a secret formula, but I believe God wants us as parents to walk hand-in-hand with our children down the path of Truth.
Our kids need to know we wrestle with God.
They need to hear how our faith has deepened through difficulties.
They need to watch our example of thankfulness, especially in stormy seasons.
Why? Because we know our children will face trials, even though we often try to shield them from struggles. 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 NIV). It’s not a question of if, but when. Storms will come. I want my children to know they are not alone when the dark clouds roll in. In the downpour, perhaps they’ll remember my stories of struggle and how God was faithful through it all.
We can’t protect our children from the inclement weather of the world’s brokenness, especially as they get older and become adults. But hopefully by having honest conversations about the truth of God’s character, presence, love, and his sovereignty through the storms we have faced, we provide our kids with an umbrella to hold onto as they splash through their own puddles.
Here are 5 things to remember as you have conversations with your child:
My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.James 1:19 CSB
It seems simple, but it takes intention to listen to our children’s words so we can hear their hearts. When my son said he didn’t want to lose Chuck, his heart expressed the fear of losing a relationship he’s built with a man he admires and loves.
2. Have Courage
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?Psalm 56:3-4 CSB
We are fearful beings, which is why the Bible is full of promises to guide us in courage. When your child expresses fear, don’t shy away from it. There’s a pretty good chance you as the parent experience the same anxiety. The cry of my boy’s heart echoed through every square on the Zoom call — we don’t want to lose Chuck! View conversations as opportunities to relate to your child and empathize with their fear. God will probably use the chat to encourage your heart as well.
3. Focus on the Good
Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.Philippians 4:8 CSB
I reminded my son that God hears our prayers, and many people, including our family, are praying for Pastor Chuck. I told him (and myself) that God is the Great Healer, and we know He can fully restore Chuck’s health. It’s easy to find the positives of pleasant situations, but when hearts are heavy, dwelling on the good is a life-long practice we can model for our children.
4. Speak Truth
But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ.Ephesians 4:15 (CSB)
This is the hardest route of conversation. There’s the good truth (God can heal Chuck), and then there’s the hard truth (but He may not heal him on earth). I believe as we step out in faith with our words, the Holy Spirit guides us. Last night, my son finished the phrase for me, speaking the hard, yet hope-filled truth to both of our hearts. “We will see him in heaven,” he said.
The truth is: we will see Chuck in heaven, and we are praying that God heals and restores his life on earth a bit longer. The first part of that sentence we know, the second part we prayerfully submit to a God who works in ways we can’t comprehend. It’s really the tension of faith, isn’t it? That we know certain truths God has placed deep within us, yet we wrestle with our incomprehension of how God works out those truths.
Don’t be afraid to speak truth to your children, and have the courage to say, “I don’t know.” I believe both provide an umbrella for our children to hold onto when the rain falls.
5. Follow Your Father
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
Parenting is hard, but God is our loving, powerful, and equipping Father. If you find yourself about to step into a hard conversation with your child, remember that you’re not alone. God goes before you, and He is with you — a promise to hold onto when you or your child feels afraid or discouraged and the hope I know Pastor Chuck would want you to uphold.
I wrote this article the afternoon following our Zoom prayer meeting and bedtime chat with my son. After getting my kids to bed, I came back to my computer to finalize the title and prepare to publish. While I was working, my dear friend who works with Chuck at church, texted me. “Chuck went home to Jesus tonight.”
Through tears, I prayed for Chuck’s family, revised the title, and typed this update. Tomorrow, my husband and I will tell our kids, and I’ll try to remember these truths in our conversation.
The last thing Chuck said to me was through a mask outside our church building as we were leaving. He wanted me to know he’s been thinking about how he and the church can support me in my writing. His encouragement is why I’m sharing this story. I believe he’d want me to. He’d want me to encourage you to keep holding onto truth through fear and loss and in parenting your kids.
We rejoice that Chuck is fully restored, fully healed, and fully alive. We greatly miss his gentle smile, genuine kindness, and loving encouragement. I pray our loss deepens my family’s faith in Jesus — who revealed himself in our dear Pastor Chuck. To echo my son’s words…we will see him in heaven.
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