Introduction for Parents:
We live in an age of perceived entitlement. People believe they are “owed” a good, comfortable life. When calamities strike, people are shaken and confused. Some even question God’s goodness: “How can a good and loving God allow this to happen? Is God some kind of sovereign bully?...” Here is a beautiful reminder from the Heidelberg Catechism:
God's providence is his almighty and ever present power,1 whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures,2 and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty,3 indeed, all things, come to us not by chance4 but by his fatherly hand.5 (Question 27)
In the midst of a disaster, we often fail to remember the millions upon millions of ways God has been good, kind, and loving to us—even to people who are in rebellion against Him. And there is no greater demonstration of God’s love, goodness, and kindness toward us than in the sacrifice of His one, beloved Son for people who rightly deserved His everlasting wrath so that we might inherit everlasting life and joy. Therefore, whether in sickness or in health, plenty or want, safety or harm, He is deserving of the greatest love, devotion, thankfulness, and praise!
[Note: this devotional lesson does not need to be done in one sitting. You could spread it out over two or more days.]
- 4 pieces of paper
- 2 pencils
- 1 gift bag
Pique Their Interest (5 minutes):
Activity—(Divide the family into two teams. Each team should have someone who is able to write. Give each team a piece of paper and pencil. Explain that you are going to have a contest. When you give the signal to begin, each team will have exactly 2 minutes to list specific “good things” they have experienced so far today. After the 2 minutes are up, quickly tally each team’s list. Then ask some of the following brief questions.)
Was it easy or hard to come up with a list? Why or why not?
Did any of the lists include things like, “I woke up. I am alive. My heart is beating. There is oxygen to breathe”? Why or why not?
If this has been a contest listing good things we’ve experienced not just today but in our entire lives, how big might that list be?
Do you think that you deserved these good these things? Were they “owed” to you? Explain?
But how would you respond if this happened…
(Take each list and tear it in half horizontally, throwing the lower portions to the floor.)
Conclusion—Every person in the world has experienced goodness. Often, we take for granted every good thing we experience, or we mistakenly think good things ultimately depend on us and what we do or don’t do. When something happens and certain “good things” seem to disappear, people are surprised and even complain. But most importantly, we ignore and forget where those good things come from and what they are meant to teach us.
Study the Scriptures (10-20 minutes):
(Read and talk about the following Scriptures. Depending on the age of your children and the time available, you may choose to have children look up one or more of the texts in their Bibles. Make sure to define any unfamiliar words or terms after reading each text.)
Acts 17:24a, 25b—The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth…he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
According to these verses, is God the sovereign ruler over everything? Yes, He is “Lord of heaven and earth.” He alone created everything, so everything belongs to Him.
What does God give to all mankind—every single person in the world? [life and breath and everything]
(Place all four portions of the “good things” lists inside the gift bag. On the third piece of paper, quickly write in large letters, “Life, breath, and everything.” Place this in the gift bag. )
- Ultimately, everything we have is a gift from God, freely given from His sovereign hand. We would not be alive for a single moment apart from God. Every heartbeat, every breath we take, every piece of food we eat…everything is from God’s hand.
- God is a sovereign ruler who freely gives us life and provides for our needs.
Psalm 145:9—The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
This verse tells us that God is good. But is God good to some people and not others? [No, He is good to all.] This verse also talks about God’s mercy. Is God’s mercy shown to just some but not others? [No, His mercy is over—shown to—all that He has made.] God’s mercy is His compassion, kindness, and provision for those in need. Mercy is a gift from God and is not something we deserve or work for.
- All people experience a measure of God’s goodness and mercy—even evil people (Matthew 5:45).
But is God still good and merciful when the world is experiencing a dangerous pandemic—a dangerous sickness? How about when our plans have to be canceled? Or when you can’t see your friends? Or when a dad loses his job? Could someone say that God is NOT being good? That is He is NOT merciful? Can you point to specific ways God shows His goodness and mercy even now? [Possible responses: the provision of doctors, nurses, grocery stores, farmers, policemen, internet, government services, giving us family, etc.]
Psalm 145:17—The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
- God is righteous in all His ways. That means that everything He thinks, says, and does is right. He never does anything wrong. His decisions are always the right decisions. His actions are always the right actions.
- God is also kind in all His works.
Illustration (Pose the following scenario with your children):
Suppose a dad is at the park with his little boy. All of a sudden, the boy sees his best friend and begins to happily race toward his friend. But the dad runs faster, quickly grabbing his son’s arm tightly, and yells in a loud voice, “No! Stop!”
At that moment, what might the little boy be thinking about what his dad just did? [Possible responses: Daddy is being mean; He’s hurting my arm; He’s not letting me see my friend; etc.]
But let me add more to the scenario—something I left out, something the little boy did not see. The little boy’s friend was on the other side of the street, and a car was speeding by. If the little boy had been allowed to keep running toward his friend, he could have been hit by the car and even killed.
Knowing this, was the dad right in what he did? Was he also being kind, even though it didn’t seem that way to the little boy?
(This illustration can help us understand something very important about God and ourselves.)
- The dad in this story is like God. God knows what is right and kind to do in any and every situation.
- The little boy is like us and all people. We are quick to assume something isn’t right or kind because it feels hurtful or makes us unhappy at the moment.
Can you name one or two things that you have felt unhappy about since the pandemic has changed our lives? Is there something that has felt unfair or hurtful? What should we remember? What is true about who God is and what He is like?
- God is sovereign over all things. Everything is under His absolute control.
- God is good, merciful, kind, and righteous in all His ways.
At any moment, He could stop a dangerous virus in its tracks! No more virus. No more illness. But God hasn’t. God’s decision and actions are good and right even though it might not feel that way to us.
(Remove one of the “good things” list portions from the bag. Tear off a small portion of the list and let it drop to the floor. Return the remaining portion to the gift bag.)
That means if God decides to withhold going to school for a time, playing with friends, being on the soccer team, going to piano lessons, health, or anything else from us, God doing what is right and He is still good, merciful, and kind.
But God wants us to see and understand something even greater about His goodness, mercy, kindness, and righteousness…
(Ask the children to think for a moment of the most unfair thing that has ever happened in the whole history of the world, something that didn’t seem right, good, or kind. In fact, it seemed the opposite. Can they guess what it is? [Jesus’ death on the cross] Take the fourth piece of paper and draw a large cross on it.)
Jesus was completely innocent of any kind of crime. In fact, He was sinless. He had never done anything wrong—not even once! But how did He die? [as a criminal; He was painfully crucified] Why did He die?
Titus 3:4-5—But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…
2 Corinthians 5:21—For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Romans 5:8—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Place the piece of paper with the cross that you have drawn on it into the gift bag.)
Why is Jesus’ death the greatest gift someone could ever receive from God? [Encourage responses.] Why is it better than comfort, health, friends, fun activities, or anything else?
- God sovereignly planned that the most horrific event that has ever happened would serve His good, merciful, right, kind, and loving purposes.
- Salvation through belief in Christ alone is the greatest gift that God can give to any person because it brings us near to God—enabling us to be with God and enjoy His presence forever.
God is sovereign over all, and He is good, loving, and right in all He does. This is shown in millions of ways every single day. But most of all it is shown through the salvation offered in Jesus!
How should we respond? [Encourage responses, such as: trust Jesus as your one and only Savior; trust God in all circumstances, praise and thank Him; tell others of God’s goodness and especially about Jesus; repent of complaining and grumbling; etc.]
(Optional: Read Psalm 145:1-18 together. Note the different ways we are called upon to respond to God: extol, bless, praise, declare, sing, give thanks, call on Him, etc.)
Pray together. Praise God for His sovereign rule. Thank Him for providing all of your needs, especially our greatest need—salvation in Jesus. Confess taking His goodness for granted. Ask for minds and hearts that daily remember His goodness, mercy, and kindness, and eagerly submit to His righteous ways.
Apply the Truth This Week:
This week, look for opportunities to remind your children of the truths learned. Consider taping a large piece of paper in a prominent place and have every member of the family write (or draw) about new mercies received from God that day. Ask: How have we seen the goodness, mercy, kindness, and love of God today? How does God want us to think about this situation? What does His Word say? How should our hearts respond—what feelings and desires does God command? What does God call us to do?
Optional Activity Pages:
- "God Is Good" (lower-elementary age), Lesson 22 from The ABCs of God
- “God Is Merciful” (lower-elementary age), Lesson 27 from The ABCs of God
- "New Mercies Every Morning" (upper-elementary), Lesson 18 from How Majestic Is Your Name
1 Jeremiah 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-28
2 Hebrews 1:3,
3 Jeremiah 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; John 9:3; Proverbs 22:2
4 Proverbs 16:33
5 Matthew 10:29[U2]
Next week’s devotional will be “Biblical Truth #3—God has subjected the whole world to a curse because of sin.”
This lesson is part of an eight-part devotional series, which was kicked off with this post.