Faith and Attention in a Transition

“For the eyes of the LORD range through the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

– 2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV

Everytime I reflect on this verse from 2 Chronicles I am reminded of God’s concern for me and the attention He desires to give me in my circumstances. There is another verse in Genesis 8:1 that reinforces the same concept as 2 Chronicles when it talks about God remembering Noah and all the animals in the ark. There were times when I would journal and pray I would express to God my appreciation for remembering me as He remembered Noah. This verse reiterates to the sincere believer that God’s eyes are always attentive to them. With eyes of compassion, God looks with care and concern for those He loves. In the same way, God compels us to look with the same compassion and care for our children during a transition as He looks upon His own children. The reality of the troubles we will have in this life, that Jesus said we would have in John 14, can cause us to forget that our children are going through the transition too. Weighed down and burdened by the reality of what we are encountering during the transition can cause us to be in denial that our children are even being impacted, especially if they’re not talking or reacting in a way that would easily identifiable. They may not be able to express it, or desire to, but they are feeling something. As we are being impacted, so are they.

A recent conversation with my brother provided insight on clues that help us to identify with whether we are, as parents, providing quality/quantitative attention to our children. He indicated the first clue being the children. Verbally, or non-verbally they will communicate their need for attention. Learning to catch them being good and acknowledging them will reinforce to them they are valued. teaching them how to ask for attention in positive, healthy ways will go a long way in discouraging them from using negative, unhealthy means to get our attention. The second would be the internal gauge of our conscience that lets us know when we are neglecting our children’s need for our undivided attention. Setting aside structured time to engage with our children in play, conversation, watching t.v./movies, or arts and crafts related activities will go a long way in reinforcing to our children that they are loved and valued beyond saying the words, ‘I love you.’ Even having special days, rituals and routines, like the ‘menu night’ I started with my children where they get to order from a menu what they would like to eat made Thursdays fun. Soon, they desired telling me earlier in the week what they would like on Thursdays as a way to express their enthusiasm for the attention they were getting associated with choosing what they could eat.My brother even cited how he notices my children frequently offer me hugs in the course of the time I spend with him in his home due to the ‘hug breaks’ we implemented so many years ago. Sincere affection is attention expressed non-verbally.

Allowing time for children to talk openly about their goals, dreams and aspirations about the future is an act of attention given to them and reinforces their value associated with their individuality and their uniqueness in how God has created them.  Listening to them share their concerns, also, is a way of providing them attention. This is what God does for us and what he did for Hagar too. God challenged Hagar to continue to give attention to her child, while experiencing the transition, while God provided attention to her by providing for her what she was unable to provide for herself and her child. What Hagar could give her child, God directed her to continue to give attention to her child despite the challenges she faced in her circumstances. Hagar thought that what she was facing as a parent was too great and allowed distance to be created from herself and her child. She became emotionally withdrawn and disconnected. The weight of her circumstances created a wedge between her and her child. When all hope was lost and despair set in, the light of God’s love and compassion broke through the darkness of Hagar’s circumstances and God ministered to Hagar that allowed her to reconnect with her child! God provided both sustenance and a promise to Hagar about her child to reinforce to her that no circumstance is greater than God’s ability to bless and preserve life! Give attention to your child, Hagar, by lifting them up (encouraging them) and taking them by the hand (guiding them) and I will make him great!

May God bless you and help you to trust Him to richly provide for everything you need and empower you to give quality/quantitative attention to your children through encouragement, love and guidance as you transition towards resiliency.

Faith & The Transition

“God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.'”

– Genesis 21:17-18 NIV

Though Hagar did not experience a traditional separation and divorce from Abraham, as the mother of Abraham’s son Ishmael, Hagar’s life and trials as a parent transitioning through life’s troubles illustrates for us God’s faithfulness to care for those He is concerned about, including you and me., as we encounter the transitions of life. For the second time (see Genesis 16) Abraham’s household erupts into conflict between Sarah and Hagar. Again the resolution involves putting Hagar out and sending her into the wilderness with her child Ishmael. The first time this happened, Hagar encountered God and learned that God is a ‘God who sees.’ The same David who declared God as One who is mindful of man in Psalm 8, later inquires to God in Psalm 10:1, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” The same David who declared that God is concerned about man later question whether God cares. My mother jokingly interjected as we read and reflected upon Psalm 10 recently during bible study that something must have happened to David for him to question God after declaring Him as One who cares.

The reality of the transitions that we face in life will cause us to respond as David did. Although we have encountered God as Hagar did and learn that God sees us and is concerned about us, our momentary troubles can sometimes challenge our faith and trust in God causing us to feel as David did when he expressed himself to God in psalm 10:1. It was God who told Moses to tell the Israelites in Exodus 3 that He has indeed seen the misery of His people, He has heard their cries, He is concerned about them and He will come to them and deliver them. The circumstances associated with our transition challenge our faith and seek to discourage us from trusting in God remaining faithful to Him to believe that He cares and He is concerned about us. The elapse of time and the increased intensity of our circumstances will cause us to inquire, ‘God, are you there? Do you see what’s happening to me? Are you going to respond to me prayers and help me in my circumstances?’ This is what David inquires of God in Psalm 10:1.

Despite how he feels and the reality of what’s happening around him, by the conclusion of Psalm 10 David looks beyond how he feels and answers his own inquiry. “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” – Psalm 10:14 NIV Hagar learned that the same God who sees also hears in her circumstances. In fact, the bible said that God heard the cries of the child. The reality of her transition caused Hagar to be overcome with grief and doubt that anything good would come out of her current circumstances. Distraught, she distances herself from her child, but God intervenes and responds with compassion to Hagar. You may not have what you need for the child Hagar, but you can take hold of the child and lift them up. In essence, what we may lack in material means for our children due to the transition, by God’s grace we are sufficient to provide love and encouragement. Then God opened Hagar’s eyes and provided a well for Hagar to provide the means she could not on her own. Despite the reality of our transition, God sees us and hears us and He cares and is concerned and He will respond to us as He responded to Hagar. Like David, despite how we may feel in the transition, continue to talk to God, as David did, and remind yourself of God’s faithfulness to care for those He loves.

May God bless you and help you to continue to come to Him and talk with Him and give to your family the love, encouragement and support God provides by His grace as you transition towards resiliency.