This week has been a long week of difficult conversations with Peyton. She’s 15 and old enough to truly understand what’s going on. We’ve talked about what closing school looks like and what hanging out with friends looks like. We’ve discussed what it means to truly social distance. And we’re, even now, learning what a real “essential” is in our household. It was only a couple of weeks ago that needing a quart of ice cream was deemed an urgent need, dropping everything to get our sugar fix.
The night before we went into mandated shelter-in-place orders, Peyton had a chat with her counselor that included ideas as to what she would do in regards to this pandemic and ways that could help rebuild the state and country as we recover from this ravaging virus. She chose to share those ideas with me after the phone call. My daughter….is brilliant. She was insightful and logical and whether or not an idea like hers could ever be put into play, it showed her compassion for people along with a desire to give citizens their sense of responsibility and dignity back after such a nationwide crush of devastation. When I told her to write it down, that maybe someone might want to hear her ideas, she looked shocked. She mentioned that too many people discount what young people have to say. When I mentioned the 20-somethings currently in politics, she said, “No, I mean people like me…kids my age who have good ideas.”
My bible reading this morning reminded me of this very conversation I had with Peyton. As I’m reading the book of Job, I see the devastation surrounding him. Everything he’s loved, cared for, and worked for, has crumbled. Death and devastation are on all four sides. And his two friends, older and therefore at that time considered wiser, told him repeatedly it was because of Job’s sin. He was suffering at the hand of God and if he would repent and repent appropriately, God would remove the burden. Chapters of conversation between these two friends and Job are written, begging him to see it was his fault.
It wasn’t until Chapter 32 of Job where you see Elihu come into the conversation. He had refrained from speaking out of respect to the older men, but he couldn’t contain it anymore. He reminds Job how great our God is and that there isn’t a single thing that goes by God without Him knowing and being in the end result. He encourages Job to think about what’s God’s purpose was in his suffering.
I don’t know how old was Elihu was when he spoke into the conversation. What I do know was that he was smart and was closer to the truth than either of the elder friends who tried to convince Job that he had offended God in some way. He offered such sound wisdom in Job 37:13, “Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen.”
During this time of uncertainty and struggle, I encourage you to talk to your children. Let them give ideas and suggestions. Encourage them to come up with ways to make other people smile while they’re hunkered down. Embolden them to come up with an idea to help ease the stress in your own home. Let them know you’re listening. I guarantee you it will feel therapeutic for them to feel like they’re part of the bigger solution.
And they may just have the wisdom of Elihu.