Helping our children with the “worries”

Written by Bob Hartman
Published on July 21, 2023

Bad things happen. And our children know it.

To be fair, they know it to greater or lesser degrees depending upon their age, maturity,  exposure to media, and their lived experience. But they know it. And because they know it, they worry.

The climate is changing. What will life be like when I grow up?

There was a shooting in a nearby city. Several people were killed. Is it safe to go to my school? To the store? To my favorite restaurant?

My friend’s parents are divorcing? Might that happen to my parents too?

Our elderly neighbor died. Will my grandma be alright?

Jesus’ words on worries

They worry. Like we all do. And because Jesus has quite a lot to say about worry, we can point them to his words (and take note of them for ourselves too). One thing Jesus has to say is actually quite funny—a bit of a joke, really. But a joke with a practical intent. And maybe that is the best place to start when dealing with “the worries.”

“Can worry add to the length of your life?” Jesus asks in Luke 12:25. (And he uses the term cubit—a physical measurement!) Of course, it can’t. But it’s not a bad question to ask your child. Or maybe you’d like to rephrase it by using another physical measurement, but still keep the meaning:

  • “Can worry make your hair grow longer?”
  • “Can worry make you taller?”

No! Worry can’t make anything happen, or stop anything from happening. Worry has no power. Worrying is a waste of time. 

Oh, yes, it upsets us, and then our hearts race and our fingernails get chewed. But that simply distracts us from things we should be doing. Focusing on what might happen tomorrow takes away our peace of mind and the joyful embrace of what we need to do today.

And that’s another thing Jesus says: “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Leave tomorrow to worry about itself” (Matt. 6:34). 

“Does that mean I don’t have to study for Friday’s math test?” your child might ask. And the answer is, of course, “Yes, you have to study!”

Jesus isn’t talking about planning or preparing for what needs to be done tomorrow. He’s talking about worrying about it. The one accomplishes something. The other, as Jesus has already explained, is pointless.

Trusting the Father

What is not pointless, however, is doing the main thing Jesus suggests: living in a trusting relationship with a heavenly Father who loves us and knows what we need.

“He feeds the birds,” says Jesus, “and he dresses the flowers. Beautifully. But, as his sons and daughters, you are so much more valuable to him than they are. So, trust him. And don’t worry” (Matt.6:25–34). 

Now, God’s care for the birds doesn’t mean we abandon our responsibilities, open our beaks, tip back our heads, and let him feed us. It doesn’t mean we give up studying for that math test. 

Nor does it mean living in a trusting and worry-free relationship with God is some kind of magic bullet that prevents anything bad from ever happening to us.

“What good is it then?” someone might ask.

The goodness of worry-free living

Here are a few answers.

The good comes from living a peace-filled and worry-free life.

The good comes from looking beyond what is immediately around us—our daily needs—to the kingdom life God has called us to live.

The good comes from knowing whatever happens, God is with us—a loving, sustaining, forgiving, encouraging, and guiding presence in our lives. For even if the worst should happen, we have the hope of a forever home with the Father.

And maybe that hope is the best thing of all in a world that often seems devoid of it. Or in a daily news cycle, where it rarely gets a mention. Or even on social media, where hope is reduced to the possibility one might accumulate millions of likes if one dresses or acts or entertains “just so.”

What our children need so desperately is to know they have a Father in heaven who loves them; a Lord whose kingdom life can truly change the world, and a risen Savior who guarantees their future.

“Seek that,” Jesus says, “and everything else will follow” (Matt. 6:33). 

Consider a few extra resources:

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Bob Hartman

Performance Storyteller Bob Hartman is the author of the YouVersion Bible App for Kids Bible stories that have been downloaded 90 million times. His long list of children’s titles have sold over a million copies, including The Lion Storyteller Bible, which has been printed in eleven different languages. As an ordained minister, his passion is to help people of every age find their way into the Bible, engage with it and discover the God who inspired it. Bob is married to Sue, has two married children, Kari and Chris, and five grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Hartman, visit Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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