“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” The little engine that could did. He believed in himself. He made it up the hill. That’s the power of positive thinking. If you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything.
That’s also the mantra with which our children are inundated every day. They are taught it in school. They read it in books. They see it on the Disney Channel.
And now they also hear it in church.
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength,” they are told (Philippians 4:13). You’ve got the all-powerful God behind you. You can do anything you put your mind to. God wants you to succeed. Just dream it and you can do it.
The only problem is that’s not what Philippians 4:13 is saying. If you look at the context, the Apostle Paul is talking about how he was able to be content – at peace – in any and every situation. He could do it – he could handle anything that came his way – through his God who gave him strength.
Philippians 4:13 isn’t talking about the power God gives us to achieve whatever we dream. It’s talking about the strength and peace God gives to deal with it when we don’t.
For many in our world today, faith is believing that good things will happen. Faith is believing that your dreams will come true.
For a Christian, faith is trust in God’s promises. God doesn’t promise that if you dream it you can do it. God doesn’t promise that if we just work hard enough we can achieve anything.
What he promises us is forgiveness. He promises us a home in heaven because of Jesus. He promises that he will be with us every moment of every day. He promises that he will make all things in our lives, even the struggles and pains, work for our eternal good.
Those promises are the way God gives us strength even as we face the disappointments of this world. Those promises give us peace and contentment no matter what happens in our lives.
So, then, what should we tell our children? Should we tell them not to dream?
Tell them that if they really want something, they should pray to God and ask him for it. Tell them to dream big, to think positive, to work hard. With God’s help, they can achieve many things which may seem impossible to them.
But also tell them that God doesn’t always give us everything we want. He doesn’t always let us live our dreams here on earth. What he does give is the peace to accept whatever he chooses to give us in his grace. He promises that whatever he gives us is for our good.
Tell your children to think positive and aim for the stars. Tell them God promises to give them the strength to deal with it if they don’t make it there.