Hopefulness: Strengthened Families

March 24, 2020 matt

There is a lot of foreboding, fear, and struggle out there right now. There’s a lot of doomsday prophecy. I would never want to downplay the struggles and fears of people. God meets us where we are, and emotion is a good part of how God made us. God calms our fears; He never says the godly will never be fearful. As I often tell my congregation, God does not expect us to be Gospel robots who glibly write off darkness and suffering because we know the resurrection is coming. It is ok to experience a moment as a finite human. Lean into the difficulty. In fact, leaning into the mess is one of the ways that God makes the Gospel sweet to us.  In other words, it’s ok to do the work of hope during this time. You do not have to auto-compute resurrection hope.

However, I am not an advocate for fearfulness or panic. In fact, in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, I am hopeful about a lot. In the midst of the dreariness of this moment, I want to share some hopeful rays that I see shining through the clouds. From time to time, I will write a post about something I am hopeful about.

This morning, I am hopeful about the opportunity that social distancing is giving us to strengthen our families.

The Alexander family has been at home for about a week now. Whitney and I are both working from home and the kids are out of school. This is not easy for us. We are going folks. We like to get out and do stuff. We love to ride to other towns, to go out to eat, and generally to be away from home. We both cherish our coworkers and workplaces. However, we fall into the category that most young families fall into: too busy. Talent show practice, dance practice, soccer practice, fundraising dinners, fun with friends, church, family get togethers, work obligations. That is just some of the stuff that takes up our time–and it’s all great stuff! And, guess what, every young family or dad that I talk to expresses the same thing: “We are too busy.”

All of us have a sinking fear about what our lifestyle is doing to our family. Deep down inside, we want what is best for our kids, but I think we wonder, “Would a quiet, regular supper at the table every night be better than the frantic activities we are rushing to?” We wonder, “Are we missing out on the sweetest years of our lives for the sake of… what? Doing stuff?” Well, God has hit the reset button for all of us. Now is a good time for us to evaluate our schedules, our frantic pace, what we value, and how we are raising our families. This is a good gift.

I would encourage you to make a commitment to come out of this with a stronger family on the other end. That means loving big, turning the patience up to 11, investing in your marriage, and being intentional about how you will lead your family during this time. What an amazing opportunity we have for the simple, every day joys of family life that previous generations enjoyed. It will not be easy, but when will we have an opportunity like this again in our lifetimes? What precious memories our children can have of this time! What grace we have received to have the freedom and time to really experience what a more settled life could look like.

I am no fool. We will all be busy again. The Alexanders will be running around again one day, fed up with sitting at home by 10:30 on Saturday. But not today. Today, I am listening to kids shout in the next room, and I love it. Right now, I am loving receiving a constant flow of art and notes from our children as I work through the day. Right now, I am overjoyed to share an office with my wife. Right now, I am cherishing taking a morning break from work to watch 3 kids perform a play. Right now, every night, I am loving sitting down at the table with my whole family to eat supper. What a simple joy that I hope we will remember when this all ends. But I also hope we will all cherish it right now. Let that evening supper table give you hope–no matter how full or empty it may be. Because when we sit down for supper, we can look forward to another supper yet to come. Not only that first Lord’s Supper we enjoy together when our churches finally gather again, but an even greater supper. One day, our Lord will spread a table before us, welcoming us home, taking us into perfect, abundant, eternal life with Him. In the darkness, in the difficulty, I am hopeful and overjoyed–for supper tonight, supper tomorrow, and supper forevermore.

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