19 Jul 2021
“Mummy loves you. Daddy loves you. God loves you most of all.” I can’t remember exactly when I stopped saying it, but for the first few years of our daughters‘ lives, those were the last words they heard each night as I kissed them and tucked them up in bed. (Or, at least, the last words apart from a repeated chorus of ’Back to bed…' over the next hour or more!)
‘There is a God and he loves you’ is one of the simplest and yet most profoundly life-changing things we could ever teach our kids. It’s not the whole of Christian faith, but it is the bedrock of it. If there were no God, or only a God who didn’t love us, there would be no Jesus, no cross, no salvation, no gospel, no point in praying, no indwelling, empowering Holy Spirit, no comfort in this life, no hope of heaven.
But ‘God loves you’ is a bit like the air we breathe – we’re surrounded by it and dependent on it yet we can easily go all day without thinking about it. We take it for granted. It’s so basic, so simple, that we can begin to imagine that it has nothing to do with everyday life.
When things are going well, we might start to think we don’t need it:
“God loves you!” “But I’ve got friends, family, and loads of good stuff. Why should I care?”
When things are hard, we might wonder if it’s got anything to do with the real, gritty struggles of our everyday experience:
“God loves you!” “But the boy who sits next to me’s mean to me. Every. Single. Day.”
When life is full of change, we might think it’s too simple for the challenges ahead:
“God loves you!” “But I don’t want to have to change schools/have a new teacher/grow up.”
Psalm 136 is a great place to go when our children’s response, to “God loves you!” is “But …” (It’s great for us, when that’s our response, too!) It takes a simple, foundational truth – “God’s love endures forever” – and fleshes it out with physical, solid, tangible evidence. This is a psalm that rubs our noses in the earthy reality of what being loved by God actually looks and feels like.
“God loves you – he made the universe!” Think you don’t need him? Look around. The ground you’re standing on, the air you’re breathing, the light you see by, every molecule in your body … he made them. He gave them to you because he loves you.
“God loves you – he rescues his people!” Israel’s slavery in Egypt was, humanly speaking, hopelessly inescapable. Yet God set them free and blessed them beyond their imagining. He’s done the same for us, in Jesus. When the boy in the next seat is mean again, when nothing goes right, when no-one seems to care, look back to the cross. God gave you the very best, most precious thing he had – he’s not going to abandon you now.
“God loves you – forever” There won’t be a day when God isn’t busy doing good for you because he loves you. Look forward. You can change class, change school, grow 6 inches, age 50 years, move halfway around the world.God’s love won’t change – it continues forever. Always with you. Always protecting you. Always providing for you.
“God loves you” – So much more than empty words. Let’s sink this truth deeper into our hearts today. Let’s point our children to the world around them, and the history of God’s people, to see God’s love for them painted in great big letters across space and time. Let’s read Psalm 136 together and shout out loud with the psalmist –
“God loves us!”
We have written a series of four Sunday School sessions to help our families work through this period of clear up. We have focused on four overwhelming emotions our children might be feeling. As with all our resources, we hope you will find these lessons flexible enough to suit your unique needs. Consider using them as the foundation for your church sermons and youth ministry. Use the ‘Parent Components’ to encourage conversations about these Psalms at home. If we can all learn together then we will surely be better at fighting the monsters together.