“This is the Worst. Day. EVER!”
If you have children, I imagine you’ve heard them say this once or twice when things didn’t quite go their way. Like maybe when they have to clean their room or eat all their dinner. We smile, because we’ve all been there, but at the same time, we know these things in no way represent the “worst day ever.” Deep in our hearts, we know that one day, our children, who we love, will face their worst day ever and it will involve much more than daily chores and eating vegetables.
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Eddie Moody share at a local D6 Connect family ministry event. His talk focused on the story of Daniel and his friends and how to raise godly young men and women in a time where their faith is becoming increasingly unpopular. He talked mostly about how the parents of these young men had prepared them for their “worst day ever” while they were children.
One verse he read was Daniel 6:10 (NKJV) where it says, “… he [Daniel] knelt down on his knees three times that day [when the king had outlawed prayer], and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.“
What “early days?” Well, if we look at other versions of this verse, we see it says “as he always had” and “because he always praised God in this way.” Daniel and his friends had already lived through their “worst day ever.” Their homes had been destroyed and conquered by Babylon. If their family survived, they were torn away from them and brought to the king’s palace.
Almost everything they loved and held dear was removed from them…almost everything. But not everything.
Daniel’s parents and his friend’s parents had given them something precious, something engrained into the fabric of who they were, that no king could ever take away and no conquering army could ever destroy.
They had given them faith in the Most High God.
A God they knew could cause them to be strong and healthy, even if they didn’t eat the king’s choicest foods.
A God they knew could rescue them from a fiery furnace, and even if He didn’t, was worthy of their trust.
A God that could tell them what kings dreamed and what those dreams meant, even if it turned out the king was a little crazy.
A God that could give them the place of highest influence, and then protect them when the law of the land prohibited them from practicing their faith.
A God that on the worst of days proved the most faithful and true.
What we do in crisis, on our “worst day ever” is the legacy we pass on to our children.
And when crisis comes, our children will tend to do what they’ve always done. In the shock of crisis, our tendency is to revert to the things that are most familiar, the things we’ve done before, the things we did in the “early days.”
There is considerable turmoil in our world today. Our children are not immune to its touch. And certainly as they grow, they will face hurt and heartache. We cannot protect them from the ravages of this life.
But we can give them the tools with which to face them by faith and not by sight.
We can teach them in their early days to run to God and not away from Him in times of need.
We can weep with them and cry with them and lead them to the place of hope and grace.
We can model for them how to walk with love and compassion toward those who are against us and to live godly and upright lives in the midst of a generation that is becoming increasingly resistant to our faith.
We can give them a faith to fall back on whenever they face their “worst day ever.”
Daniel and his friends weren’t super human. They didn’t possess some kind of supernatural strength or unheard of powers. They were just men. Young men at that. But what they did have was a faith in a God that didn’t waver when faced with challenge. Their parents, long before they were removed from them and displaced to another land, gave them the greatest treasure they possibly could—a faith to fall back on.
They took the words of Deuteronomy 6:7 seriously and impressed God’s commands upon their children and their legacy continues to this day.
When faced with our worst days, with crisis, with news that breaks our hearts, with unjust laws or unfair treatment…how do we react? What legacy are we leaving? What faith are we giving our children?
I pray that we resolve to run toward and not away from God and His love and in our brokenness and fear give our children a faith on which to fall and stand; a faith characterized by love, and trust, and hope, and grace so that when their worst days come, they too can do what they did in the early days, as they have always done.