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Week of November 13, 2023

3 When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4 But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5 for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6 So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.”

-1 Thessalonians 5:3-6 (NRSV)

Doesn’t it seem that things go haywire at the worst times? Either things are going great, and “sudden destruction” ruins everything, or things are already bad. Things get worse. The Bible warns us about how what we might call “peace and security” is us trying to escape God’s light.  Rather than mere punishment or blame or guilt, God’s light brings us to an honest place. While our good or bad fortunes may surprise us, God does not. God is always with us, urging us to stay close to His light. Even as the Bible warns us, God’s love for us is evident.

As God’s children and parents in our own right, we know how suddenly tragedy can strike. Yes, we warn our children, but our warnings are a part of a lifetime of teaching. The older our children become, the more delicate our position as advisors to our children becomes. Although teaching our five-year-olds feels easier than guiding our twenty-five-year-olds, God sets an excellent example for us. 

In telling us to “keep away and be sober” as His children, God is modeling great parenting and coaching. More than advising us to stay aware in a general sense, God is telling us to “keep awake” and remain aware that we are God’s children. More than suggesting that we stay “sober” in an obvious sense, God is telling us to abstain from any substance, product, or relationship that will affect our minds and hearts in a way that causes us to forget God’s promise of resurrection and eternal life. 

As parents, God calls us to develop our homes and teach our children so that they remain aware and never escape God’s love! As children (of God’s and two humans that some of us know and some of us don’t), God’s advice to us should make our hearts softer and more able to forgive and love our mothers, fathers, siblings, and neighbors with the kind of compassion that basks in the light of God’s love!

God of light, keep us awake, aware, sober, and unescaped from your Word and love. Please support our family together under your light even as we face trials and tribulations. Teach us how to love others so that our love for you is instructive to others! Amen!

Question for reflection: What happens to our children and partners when they face tough times? Have we helped them to develop coping skills? Have we prepared them to face difficulties in such a way that embraces rather than escapes from God?  Are you willing to list your coping skills (the spiritual, emotional, mental, and intellectual practices you engage in to help manage life's difficulties, successes, and complications) and share them with your partner or a close friend? If so, begin a dialogue with your friend/partner and see how many coping strategies you all share.