It is difficult enough to face discouragement as an adult, but to watch a child suffering beneath the weight of disappointment or despair only compounds our own. Discouragement is a universal experience, and it surfaces from many scenarios. For a child, it might arrive through words from a peer, feelings of personal failure, a poor grade, or an unrealized goal. Beyond the expected trials of childhood, circumstances over the past year have brought our children up against disappointments and setbacks we could have never foreseen. When our children are overwhelmed by the world’s problems, or weighed down by the immediate issues in front of them, how do we come alongside them with an eternal, steadfast solution?
Here are three powerful truths from the Bible for equipping your child to battle discouragement …
In Psalm 68:19 we read, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation.” When your child wakes in the morning, sit with them a moment and ask them to close their eyes. Tell them to picture the day’s troubles — those they know of and those that will arise — all bagged up. Now tell them to envision God taking that heavy sack and slinging it over His shoulder. Every time your child feels the weight resettling on their own shoulders, tell them to practice stopping, taking a deep breath, and reciting, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden.”
Prolonged discouragement has a way of eroding a child’s confidence. It can leave them feeling rather weak, and can land them in a vulnerable position. The message of society is often, “Muscle through it,” “You have the power,” or “You can do everything you set your mind to.” Our children eventually grow into the knowledge that these statements are not all true. We have an opportunity here to show them how our own weakness opens the door wide for God to work in and through us. Share with your child a personal story of when you felt weak or incapable, and how God provided what you needed — whether it was strength, perseverance, or perspective. Read to your child 2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Encourage your child to write down the things specifically making them feel weak, and to write out a prayer asking God to help them see Him at work, showcasing His strength in those circumstances.
One way God showcases His strength in our weaknesses is through the work He is doing to refine us. Romans 5:3-5 lends perspective for the purpose of trials, “We also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Talk with your child about “perseverance,” “proven character,” and “hope.” Be honest with your child, telling them you know how it feels to be discouraged, but that in the discouragement, you can hold to the assurance that God is making a way. Read to your child Psalm 66:10 and 12:
“For You have tried us, O God;
You have refined us as silver is refined …
… We went through fire and through water,
Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.”
Assure your child that God wants to lead them out of discouragement and into a place of abundance — a place of overflowing faith, joy, peace, and His power and victory.