If news media reports, television announcements, and social media trending topics could be weighed in a balance, I wonder what the daily tonnage would be? Surely it would be a weight too burdensome to be borne. Even the fraction of the stuff that the average American tends to gather for their sack of daily worries is too heavy for my taste, so I try to accumulate as small a load as possible. But I still end up on many days with a chunk of discouraging information about the state of things...and oh, what to do with it? Especially for mothers, every bit of baddish news adds a weight of care to our concern for our children. What do I do as a mother with another piece of news that reminds me what a dangerous, broken world I will have to send my child to face? I don't have to list the variety of depressing issues available for us to consider - anyone reading this probably knows them all too well.
But to make the illustration concrete, here is a piece of something I happened to pick up yesterday from a Washington Post article on Trump attacking someone on Twitter - "Her phone began ringing with callers leaving threatening messages that were often sexual in nature." One thinks, Ah, poor lady! but a mother thinks, How awful that our nation is increasingly full of predators, and I have this sweet baby girl - oh God, help! Mamas know this thought sequence really well. But I paused in my sorrowful prayer and thought What DO I do? What do I want for my children? This world is just going to be nasty until Jesus comes back, and I can't always protect my children. What do I seek for them? What can I give them? and the words came to my mind - "Holding fast to the word of life (Php. 2:16)." Yes. Yes! This is what I want for them. This is what I will labor to give them and pray to see made real in them - the truth about God, the gospel of Jesus, the whole counsel of Scripture, the grand, sweet promises, the unshakable hope, the words that bring life to the soul, that sustain the believer through every trial and carry them onward to Heaven, that nothing on earth can take away from them. Truly, if the bad things on the news happened to my children - and yet, they held fast to the word of life - it would be enough.
Yes, the worst could happen - that a child does not hold to the word of life. But the battle cry of every mother's heart should be, Not if I can help it! Or for the more vigorous among us, Over my dead body! This is done, not simply by force-feeding the tots a pile of memory verses -though that doesn't much hurt! - but pressing into the solid comfort of the Word of God myself. I can't give what I don't have. But when it comes to what to do with 'the stuff out there', I can use those heavy lumps of bad news, and plunk them down on the lever of my determination to hold fast to the word of life before my children - to know and cherish the word of God for myself, and so doing to set it more faithfully before them. To use another metaphor - the colder the thermometer drops outside, the more wood you throw on the fire. Let me be found strengthening my soul with the Word of God, and when my children need strength, it will be the first thing I give them.
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
(Philippians 2:13-16 ESV)