When we think of Bible heroes, we think of mighty warriors like Sampson and David or brave and loyal followers of God like Esther and Deborah. We often forget that many people in the Bible are faced unique challenges and hardships.
Learning and Teaching From Bible Stories
One of the hardest things to experience as a parent is watching your child struggle. For some of us, these struggles stem from a disability or diagnosis of some kind. However, every child will face unique challenges. When these challenges and struggles present themselves, it can be challenging to know the right words to encourage their hearts and strengthen their character.
As believers, we know that we cannot go wrong with the truth of God’s Word. We want to enable our children to use it to combat the enemy’s lies concerning their worth and identity in Christ. Sometimes it is hard to know where to look for these answers. In this article, we will share a few Bible heroes who were powerfully used by God, despite their personal challenges.
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Bible Hero #1: Zacchaeus, Christ's Chosen Host
If you have a child who has physical differences, a story that they may be able to relate to is the story of Zacchaeus. The Bible doesn’t tell us many details about this man, but the one that he is most known for has to do with his physical stature.
Although some have speculated that he may have had some kind of dwarfism, all we know is that he was short and that this was something that made life difficult for him under certain circumstances.
Questions to Ask
Luke 19:3 tells us that he wanted to see Jesus, but he could not see over the crowd because he was short. We can ask our children if they ever feel like their physical difference holds them back from doing what they desire to do?
Another thing we know about Zacchaeus is that he had made some bad decisions in his life. We know that he had a career that made him successful and wealthy but led him to be disliked by others. We can ask our children why they think he may have chosen that path? Do you think others were kind to Zacchaeus when he was a kid? When others made fun of him or didn’t include him, how do you think that made him feel?
Often, our children are more likely to express themselves to us if we put it in the context of someone else, so listen for insights into how your child may be feeling. When others hurt us, does it make us feel good or bad about how God made us?
Learning From the Hurt
If you have older children, a great conversation to have is the relationship between how Zacchaeus had likely been hurt by others’ words and actions and how eventually he was the one doing the hurting. Does personal pain justify harmful choices? Do you think God cared about how Zacchaeus felt? Read Luke 19:4-9 with your child. Do you think Zacchaeus was surprised by how Jesus interacted with him? How did the people respond to Jesus seeking out the company of Zacchaeus?
We can use this story to teach our children that although we cannot control how people see and react to us, we can be confident in the truth that Jesus loves us and wants to be with us. Then, share 1 Samuel 16:7b:
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”
Did Zaccheus have a change of heart? Yes, and that enabled him to show radical love to others even though his outward appearance did not change.
Bible Hero #2: Moses, Deliverer of God's People
Another character who can help us address the challenges and insecurities our children may be experiencing is found in Exodus 3-4. In this passage, God suddenly appears to Moses in the burning bush and calls him to lead his people out of Egypt. Moses responded with excuses that were rooted in his insecurities.
“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?'” (Ex. 3:11)
He also thinks ahead and presents God with a scenario that he’s made up in his mind.
“Then Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Ex. 3:13)
God responds to Moses’ question with “I will be with you.” Again, Moses displays his anxiety and doubt by telling God how he suspected the Israelites would react to him, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, “The Lord did not appear to you?”
Point out to your child that even after God reminds Moses numerous times that he is qualified for this task. God chose Moses, not because of who Moses was or his abilities, but because of who God is and the miraculous power that He possesses. Still, Moses says:
“Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (Ex. 4:10)
The Important Takeaway
People have speculated that Moses may have had a speech impediment; we honestly do not know. In Paul’s speech to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7:22, he says that Moses was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.” Instead of focusing on why Moses had such insecurity with his speech, use it as a way for our kids to relate to whatever challenge or insecurity they may have.
Even Moses, being chosen by God for such an important task, was not above feelings of insecurity and doubt. We can use this story to teach our kids that even though they may face their challenges, nothing can disqualify them from being used by God.