(Note: This was first posted in April of 2020, in order to address the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. It's easily adaptable to the current crises facing our would, including the war in Ukraine. This devotional is the first of an 8-part series. You can access the other seven parts through this introductory post.)
Introduction for Parents:
In a world experiencing turmoil, uncertainty, fear, hardship, suffering, and death there is only one unshakeable hope—knowing, trusting, and resting in the Sovereign Creator of the universe. For those who trust in His sovereign, good, and loving rule, we can endure the present difficulties of this world as we look to Him as our anchor and strength. The King of kings and Lord of lords is on His throne bringing about His perfect purposes, for His glory and our everlasting joy.
- Small ball and empty container that can serve as a “basket” for the ball
- Calendar of current month and previous month
- An inflated balloon and pin, or something else that can be used to make a sudden, loud noise
Pique Their Interest (5 minutes):
(Using the empty container as a basket, let each family member take turns trying to throw the ball into the container from the same distance. Before each person throws the ball, ask how confident he or she is of making the basket. The second time around, place the basket further away and quickly repeat.)
Can we always accomplish what we are aiming for? Can we be certain that we will make a basket every single time? Why not?
(Next, show the children last month’s calendar. Did everything the family had planned to do happen as planned? Why not? Give your children some examples of things that had to be canceled or changed—a playdate with friends, going to church, attending school, visiting grandparents, etc. Encourage them to talk about how it feels to have so many of their plans and routines drastically changed.)
We often think we are more in control than we really are. We make plans, do certain things to accomplish those plans, and yet in the end, we do not have absolute certainty over the outcome. We didn’t plan on our world experiencing a dangerous new virus. This is an important reminder: We do not control everything. Something outside of us has the final say. Knowing and understanding this is for our good.
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.)
Proverbs 16:9—The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
James 4:13-15—Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
How do these verses relate to what is happening in our family and world right now? Do we have the final say in what will actually come about from day-to-day? No. Who does? Why does the LORD have the final say?
Isaiah 46:9-10—“…for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’”
What does it mean when God says, “I am God, and there is none like me”? [Encourage some responses.]
(Emphasize the following about God.)
There is none like God because:
- God alone is eternal. He has no beginning and will have no end (Psalm 90:2).
God alone is self-sufficient and independent. He doesn’t need anything or anyone
- God alone is the Creator of everything (Isaiah 44:24).
God alone is the sustainer of all creation. He provides for every need of His creation
- God alone is all-powerful (Jeremiah 32:17).
- God alone is all-knowing (1 John 3:20).
- God alone is everywhere all the time (Jeremiah 23:24).
So when God says, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” would anyone or anything be able to stop that from happening? What about powerful rulers and nations?
2 Chronicles 20:6—…“You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”
Daniel 4:35—…[God] does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
(Have a younger child place his hand against your hand, palm to palm. Tell him that on the count of three, you are going to begin pushing against his hand, forcing it to move backwards. The child should try, as hard as he can, to resist your hand—stopping it from moving.)
This illustration can help us understand what it means that none can “stay God’s hand.” No one can stop God’s “hand” from accomplishing His plans.
All people and nations are under God’s rule.
- None can stop God’s purposes and plans from coming about.
- No one can challenge God’s rule or say that He is unfair in what He does.
But what about powerful forces of nature—like storms. Are they outside God’s control? Could they frustrate God’s plans?
Psalm 135:6-7—Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
God is SOVEREIGN over ALL things. He has the authority (right), power, and wisdom to do all that He pleases.
- Every part of God’s creation—all places, objects, creatures, people, and even Satan—is under God’s sovereign will and rule.
- Every event and situation is under God’s sovereign rule.
Why does this matter? How can knowing this be for our good? [Encourage responses.]
(Point to the current COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. In child-appropriate language, explain both the extent and the severity of the situation and recall how it is affecting your family, neighbors, friends, etc.)
Why are many people fearful of what is happening?
What is important to understand about this situation? Will a tiny, unseen virus have the final say? Is it out of God’s sovereign control? Did it catch God by surprise? Is God nervous about what might happen next?
Isaiah 45:7—“I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.”
- God is never surprised or nervous by things such as deadly viruses. Nor is He surprised by any other calamity—tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, etc.
- All things are under His absolute rule.
- Although we might not understand “why” God does what He does in a particular situation, we can be confident that He has a good and right purpose in what He does.
Do you remember in the Old Testament when God sent 10 plagues on Egypt? What was God’s good purpose in doing this? [to free His people from slavery in Egypt]
What about when God sent a flood over the whole earth? [That was righteous judgment because the people were continually evil.]
How might calamities—things like a dangerous virus—serve God’s good purposes? How might it serve as an important reminder to all people?
(Without the children seeing what you are doing, pop the balloon with the pin or make a sudden loud noise. Note their reactions. Did you suddenly have everyone’s focused attention? Loud noises such as alarms, sirens, etc. can serve as important warnings to us. We stop what we’re doing and pay attention. For example, a fire alarm sounding means, “Danger! Get out!” At that moment, getting to safety is more important than watching TV, playing a game, etc.)
How might a calamity, like a dangerous virus, be used by God as a type of “alarm” to our family, church, and world? Why should difficult circumstances cause us to want to run to Jesus? What do people realize when they are confronted with danger? [Something is wrong with the world. They want answers and need help. They need salvation that only is found in Jesus, etc.]
Can you think of any ways in which God is using this difficult situation for our good? What does God want us to think, feel, and do? [possible responses: pursue trusting and loving Jesus more, spend more time reading and Bible and praying, be more concerned for unsaved people, look to the needs of others, repent of worldliness, etc.]
- Calamities, such as dangerous viruses, are like an alarm. They are meant to draw our attention to what is most important—knowing, trusting, loving, and worshiping the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. He is our only hope and lasting treasure.
- For those who trust in Jesus, we can be confident knowing that God is always on His throne accomplishing His perfect purposes.
- Because God is sovereign, God’s people need not be anxious or fearful.
Psalm 62:6-8—He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
Encourage your children to acknowledge any fears they may be experiencing regarding events that seem out of control. Pray together: Praise God for His perfect, good, and loving sovereign rule; thank Him for providing all of your needs, especially the greatest need—salvation in Jesus; ask for His help in overcoming and quieting any fears; ask for the grace and strength to be a light to a hurting and fearful world.
Apply the Truth This Week:
This week, look for opportunities to remind your children of the truths learned. Ask: 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? How can we bring this concern or fear to our heavenly Father in prayer?
Optional Activity Pages:
- "God Is Sovereign" (lower-elementary age) – from The ABC’s of God, Lesson 9
- "There Is None Like God" (upper-elementary) – from My Purpose Will Stand, Lesson 1
This lesson is part of an eight-part devotional series, which was kicked off with this post.