1. General Christian

Parenting beyond the Five-Minute Future

If I can just get through the next hour, I can put the kids to bed, clean the house, rotate the laundry, and send a couple emails, I thought. Oh, and I need to prep for tomorrow’s online classes for my girls and set up the tablets for the boys.

Just trying to get through the next hour or few minutes is nothing new for parents of young children. Many times when my four kids were younger, going five minutes without crying or yelling felt like a small victory. Now, let’s add a global pandemic to the mix. How am I supposed to work my full-time job, teach my kids daily, keep my house clean, finish my degree—and make sure they are getting time to learn about God too?

Please don’t get me wrong. I know I’m extremely fortunate having a job I can do from home, a healthy family, and a safe place to live. I know that for me to even complain can seem obtuse and narrow-minded. However, I know that God is not a “this or that” type of God. I can still be stressed out and be thankful for what I have. I can feel emotional and frustrated and simultaneously feel compassion for the doctors and nurses who risk their lives each day.

Even if you are not a parent, I bet you can relate. This pandemic is sticking around a lot longer than most people expected. The days are getting shorter, and the darkness, longer. Our emotions are running high, and our patience wears thin. College classes have gone virtual, and many students don’t plan to go back after the Christmas break. The world’s uncertainty is at an all-time high, and trials and tribulations seem commonplace. However, in the middle of all this, Jesus reminds us, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulations. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

Right now it may be hard to think of anything long-term—even the next five minutes may seem overwhelming—but God is faithful and asks us to not only look at the next five minutes with anticipation but to also find peace in knowing that he has all our minutes, hours, and days. He’s numbered every hair on our heads and knows the trials we will face. He is right here with us, longing for us to rest at his feet and dwell in his promises.

Investing in the Future

At InterVarsity, we always think of, pray for, and support college students and faculty. Now more than ever, they need to know Jesus and his grace and real hope. Their friends, connections, clubs, and lives have been dramatically shaken.

With this sudden change in colleges, I wonder what effect this will have on my young children. And through this pandemic, I feel like God is telling me to think beyond the next five minutes, look at the big picture of life, and think not only about my specific circumstances but at what the future will look like for everyone.

Here are a couple ideas that could help us all be present in the moment but also think long-term. And if you’re not a parent, there are still plenty of opportunities to gain a broader perspective on life by caring for campuses near you through prayer, developing relationships, and even planting an InterVarsity chapter. (Please leave your ideas in the comments below.)

  1. Connect with local faculty members and ask if you can pray for them.
  2. Reach out to any college students or their parents asking if you can pray or send food or gift cards (we can all imagine how much food college kids eat).
  3. Have your kids write letters or draw pictures and send them to their teachers, principals, and administrators.
  4. Sit down with your kids for five minutes each day and pray for students across the world. You can also look up a college near you and pray for that campus.
  5. Explore how students around the world are educated through these lesson plans.

In all that’s happening, I know that God is still good, and he is always looking to the future. He understands our heartbreaks, frustrations, nervousness, and disappointments. The future he sees is one that I yearn for as well, a future with no sadness, frustration, hurt, or sickness. A future where things will be perfect.

Until then, I will get through the next five minutes but also invest in the future. I will be sad and happy. I will feel overwhelmed and optimistic. God is not going anywhere, his promises have never changed, and he is our future. These truths will get me through the next five minutes.

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