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Posted by Dr. Scott Solberg on May 06, 2020

The Gift of Hardship and Disappointment for Children

IF DISAPPOINTMENT CAN BE VIEWED as a gift, then COVID-19 is the gift that keeps on giving. At least that is the way it feels.

Psychologist Dr. Peter Thompson captured the kind of disappointment many of our children and teens are facing during this pandemic. He writes, “As millions of children are currently facing cancelled plans for vacations, movies, parties, graduations, proms, and stay-at-home orders, they are struggling to adjust to the reality of our unprecedented situation.” You can read the full article here.

And yet, while Thompson readily acknowledges the disappointments and hardships that come as a result of the current pandemic, he encourages parents to embrace the opportunity these disappointments bring. They are opportunities to learn important life lessons that in the end make us stronger.

The key to turning disappointment into opportunity is found in learning how to respond to the disappointment. Thompson notes, “we always have a choice in situations, that is whether to respond or react, and the choice we select makes all the difference.” Through teaching children how to respond to disappointments we help them become resilient and we pass onto them the kind of wisdom that will serve them well for the future.

While this is a secular article, I think the principle is biblical. Consider what Paul writes in Romans 5:1-5. 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Look how Paul describes the opportunity that comes with disappointment. “Knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.”   

May God give you wisdom and grace as you seek to help your children and teens grow from the mounting disappointments that come with this virus. Help them respond by first turning to Jesus, our peace. Because of this peace, we can assure them in their grief and in the hardship that they can trust God and that everything will be alright.