Faith. This single word beautifully summarizes the entire chapter. I would apologize to those of you who I am most certain I will offend but I honestly do not believe any apologize is necessary. I would, however, caution you to lay aside your personal prejudices and stereotypes long enough to trudge through this chapter of the book and glean whatever insight possible. After all, regardless of your personal opinion, one attribute upon which we can all agree is that our children, our foster children, our adopted children desperately need resiliency.
It is interesting that my mother, who was a licensed professional counselor, once wrote and spoke at a national level about building resiliency in children whose parents are incarcerated. I can remember sitting in the front row of her session, proud that she was my mother, but with little, if any acknowledgment, of the magnitude of her words. Now, I sit in my living room struck by the fact that her words have come full circle. How ironic. To those of you who have a fear of in-depth Bible based studies, beware. But before you skip this chapter. Please understand, my degree is in engineering. I am analytical. Scientific. Unemotional. And blatantly honest. I believe there is a high probability that macro-evolution is the means by which God created the universe. I believe that the Big Bang Theory has all but been confirmed. I believe that women should have an extremely important role as leaders in the western church and anything less would be hindering the Gospel. I believe that Paul and Peter both spoke of the leadership role of the man in the home to only conform to the Aristotelian order of the home that was made popular (by Aristotle) in the 4th century BC and later became re-popularized in the 1st century BC when women began asserting their independence by doing such heinous acts as taking a lover in the midst of their marriage. (Things men had been doing for years.) I believe that both Paul and Peter encouraged believers to adhere to this hierarchy “for the sake of the Gospel” as stated in Titus 2:5 and 1Peter 3:1. After all, any household not adhering to the Aristotelian order of the home would have been considered immoral in 1st century AD which would have greatly damaged the credibility of their witness. This did not mean that they were negating “For there is neither, Jew nor Greek, male nor female...” (Galatians 3:26-3:29) On the flip side of the coin, I believe that abortion is destroying an innocent life and that homosexuality along with every other form of sex prior to marriage, and all forms of sexual sin are not only wrong but a root cause of the breakdown of our families and hence society as we know it today. I do even, dare I say...vote republican. Now that I have adequately offended and disengaged my audience, the two remaining readers (who most likely I will be spending Thanksgiving with this year) and I shall continue.
I mention the above dissertation not to polarize the minimal audience remaining but to highlight the apparent paradoxes in my Biblical beliefs. But perhaps, it would be better to more specifically cite them as cultural paradoxes. After all, it is our job as believers to sort out the “traditions of man” from those things which are truly Biblical.
What does this have to do with building resiliency in children? Everything. Faith is the number one cited reason for sustaining oneself through great hardship. How do we give our children a legitimate faith? We do this by giving them a faith that is well-balanced, grounded in historical accuracy and seeped in the knowledge that modern science will only accentuate their faith not disparage it. We give them a faith that holds firmly to Biblical standards without compromising reality. We do not give them a faith with its head firmly planted in the ground out of fear that at the slightest confrontation it will crumble. We do not give them a faith comprised solely of disjointed fairy tales and moral parables accompanied by the occasional praise song. How do we give them a real, vibrant and culturally-aware faith? We must first experience it for ourselves. How? By hard work and fervent study. If you think you don't have time, think again. This will pay dividends in the end – both in time and in the lives of your children.
I would suggest starting with some of the work of David Instone-Brewer. Instone-Brewer is a senior research fellow at Tyndale House through Cambridge University. His doctorate is in Rabbinics (study of the 1st Century Judaism) and how it relates to the New Testament. He has authored over 40 publications and was on the team of translators for the New Living Translation of the Bible. That said, much of his work is not only enlightening but quite witty with a dry humor of which only the British are most capable. Some of his research can be found at http://www.visualsermons.co.uk/ in a user-friendly and easy to follow format. Many of these online papers have been modified to a group study format and linked to videos as well as discussion question at www.Godandsciencecollide.org. His primary web-page at Tyndale House is http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/index.php?page=david-instone-brewer where there are links to not only the visual sermons web-page listed above but to several other websites and publications as well. This is just a starting place. There are numerous excellent resources from which to study the Bible. Search for those that are grounded in history, science, and apologetics so that you might have real answers for the questions your kids will inevitably ask.
My point is this, the faith of our parents is no longer viable for our children. We live in the information age and the church appears to be the only common establishment that has not manifest signs of coming to terms with this reality. I state this as an evangelical woman, who spent the vast majority of her life in some form of Christian denomination (Roman Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist) thinking that she knew all there was to know about the Christian faith. Then, I began to ask that pesky question that our children have asked for years. Why? What I came away with was a faith much stronger, more vibrant, and genuinely real. Be proactive enough to begin answering that question of “why” for your children now before the answer is a bit too little, too late. Sure, go ahead and do the fun family nights and devotions (several are listed in this book as well) but please don't stop there. Give them more to hold on to than a catchy song or team building activity. Give them a Savior – a Savior who is as real, and as relevant today as He was over 2000 years ago. Give them something to hold on to. Give them resiliency.