During a difficult season when I grappled with how it seemed darkness was prevailing against the church, I studied the book of Revelation. Revelation may not be the most obvious place to look for comfort in a dark world, but it proved the right book to speak to my pain and confusion.
Revelation teaches us to view suffering through a heavenly lens. It tells us to identify with our Savior through trials and hardships (Rev. 2:10; Phil. 3:10). Four truths that sprouted from my Bible study buoyed my confidence that God’s light would overcome the darkness.
And as I studied, I was stirred with a desire to disciple my children so they have confidence when they face hardship. Here are four age-appropriate truths from Revelation that will help your kids withstand this world’s darkness.
1. We persevere by fixing our eyes on Jesus.
When we talk with kids about the Scriptures, we must highlight all aspects of Jesus’s character. We can show younger children Christ’s control over sickness, death, nature, and evil spirits in the Gospels or by using an oral Bible storying method. With older kids, we can walk through John’s vision of Jesus in Revelation 1. It’s there that John lets the church behold a vision of Jesus in all his glory (vv. 12–20). The same Jesus who deeply loves us (v. 5) is also the One who strikes John with holy reverence and fear (v. 17).
Revelation may not be the most obvious place to look for comfort in a dark world, but it proved the right book to speak to my pain and confusion.
In the seven letters to the churches (Rev. 2–3), Jesus offers a reward for endurance. If believers fix their eyes on Christ, they’ll receive this promised reward. Here John shows us that understanding Jesus’s full character helps us to persevere. And staying focused on Jesus isn’t just for struggling parents. Our kids need to learn this too. They need to see that our faithful Christ will walk with them through every season—well beyond their years at home.
2. Suffering is normal.
Revelation was written to suffering churches. Believers at the time John penned the book faced false teaching (2:2, 14), and were banished from society (1:9), jailed (2:10), persecuted by the government for refusing to worship the emperor (13:15), and even killed (2:13) for their faith. Christians who remained faithful to Jesus suffered the consequences socially, economically, and physically.
Even today, persecution is par for the course for Christians, though what we experience in America doesn’t reflect what’s transpiring across the globe. The more we share stories with our kids of faithful Christians suffering, the more its normalcy will permeate their worldview (and ours). One way to instill this reality in our children is to read through the letters to the churches in Revelation 2–3. You can also subscribe to newsletters from closed-country missionaries and discuss real-life stories of believers who are faithfully following Christ despite difficulties. Talk about when persecution happens, why, and how God uses it.
3. God uses suffering to defeat the Enemy.
Revelation describes Jesus as both “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (5:5) and “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (5:6). This contrast draws attention to what seems impossible: a slaughtered Lamb leading his people in triumph against the Enemy (17:14).
When the Enemy thought he’d defeated Christ, God used the injustice of Christ’s crucifixion to conquer the Devil and win our salvation. In the same way, God also uses the death of Christians to defeat Satan. Those who lose their lives for Christ will reign and judge with him (20:4). No matter what tactics the forces of darkness employ—prison, ostracism, physical abuse, death—they cannot stop the church from fulfilling her God-given mission (21:3).
Read Revelation 5 with your older kids and talk about how Jesus’s suffering led to the Devil’s defeat. With younger kids, read Revelation 7:14–17 and discuss how Easter means that one day Jesus will stop all his children’s sadness.
4. Obedience isn’t easy.
As the book of Revelation moves toward judgment day, it highlights the sweetness of God’s Word with the bitterness of the suffering obedience often requires (10:10).
We want our kids to grasp this complexity involved in following Jesus—that obedience to Jesus doesn’t typically mean applause, ease, or security in the world. So we should model to our kids a lifestyle that’s fearless in telling others about Christ. And we must expose our kids to others who model the same—missionaries, families who faithfully proclaim Christ, fearless saints from church history, and biblical examples like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan. 3). Being examples of what it looks like to follow Jesus no matter the cost will help our kids “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps. 34:8).
The more we share stories with our kids of faithful Christians suffering, the more its normalcy will permeate their worldview (and ours).
Read Revelation 21:1–7 together and discuss how human history concludes for faithful followers of Christ. Keeping this end in mind can help us remain steadfast in our devotion to Jesus. Though the journey is challenging, we look ahead to see the final victory is ours.
Revelation can help our children understand that following Christ is worth it, so use this book as a tool to train them. Give your kids these truths to battle against the darkness and withstand attacks from the Enemy. Lay for them a foundation for the rewards that are given to those who overcome.