When I’m overwhelmed with life, I instinctively lean into my faith. I spend more time talking to God and reading His Word. I find hope and peace in His promises and joy as I reflect on Jesus’ soon return. Whether you are a church-going believer or not, you can trust the Bible. And you, too, can be certain that Jesus will come back to Earth in glory.
Unfortunately, Scripture’s promises about the second coming of Jesus are not always read with joy. The prophetic imagery in chapters like Revelation 19 can be confusing and even terrifying at first glance. Add to this the misinformation that various books and popular culture have added to this promised event, and our minds can be left reeling. How do we make sense of the Second Coming so that we can talk to our children about it in a meaningful way?
Sharing the joy and hope of Jesus’ soon return with the children in our lives is essentially no different from how we talk to them about other relationships and events. When Jesus is a loved one and not a mysterious stranger, it makes all the difference.
Imagine this scenario. Your children, ages three and five, wander into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep from their eyes. They sit at the breakfast table, and you pour them a glass of juice and drop bread slices into the toaster. As you wait for the toast to pop up, you tell them about the exciting day you have planned “A man will be coming to get you,” you explain. “He’s going to take you to a busy place full of people. You’ll stay outside in the crowd of people until it’s completely dark. Then the sky will light up suddenly, and there will be very loud noises.” As your children stare at you wide-eyed, you add, “And I don’t know when the man will be here, so you better be ready!” As the toast pops up, your children aren’t interested in breakfast; they’re sobbing and terrified.
Now imagine a different scenario. As you drop the bread slices into the toaster, you say this: “Granddad is coming to pick you up. He’s going to take you to the church where Grandma, your cousins, and your friends will be. You’re going to a picnic, and you can stay past your bedtime. Once it’s completely dark outside, there will be fireworks! The lights and noise may feel scary, so stay close to Granddad; he’ll make sure that you’re safe.” As your children bounce up and down with excitement, you add. “I don’t know when Granddad will be here, so you should get ready right after breakfast.” As the toast pops up, your children aren’t interested; they’ve already run off to get ready for their fun day with Granddad.
We naturally talk to our children using the kind of language that we imagined in the second scenario. We provide context, we give assurances, and we anticipate potential problems and offer solutions. This same approach works well when we talk to our children about the tenets of our faith, including more abstract concepts, such as the future return of the Messiah.
The key difference between the two imagined conversations isn’t the language. It’s the relationship. It isn’t any man who is coming to pick up the children. It’s someone they know, love, and trust—Granddad. The children have spent time with him, and they’ve given gifts to and received presents from Granddad. They know his likes and dislikes, what his home looks and feels like. They have memories and plans for the future with this loved one. The news of Granddad’s arrival isn’t terrifying, and they joyfully and eagerly want to be ready to spend time with him.
When our children know Jesus, conversations about His return can be filled with joy. The Jesus they understand, love, and trust is a welcome Visitor. When Jesus is a Friend, we won’t want to miss the happy visit, and we’ll eagerly anticipate being face-to-face with our Loved One. Equipping our children to know Jesus, not as a faraway deity but as a loving Creator who treasures them, will set the table for that relationship. Just as loving grandparents give gifts freely, so does Jesus share the most precious gift of salvation.
Sharing Jesus with your child
As parents, we often want to share Jesus with our children, but we struggle to know how to do this in the context of a busy family. Here are a few ideas to get you started or spark your creativity.
Nurture your own faith. It’s easy to set aside our own needs, including our spiritual needs, for the sake of our children. Allow yourself time to spend with Jesus. Pray and read His Word. To learn about the Second Coming, read the main passages about it in Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:6–28; and 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18. If you’re inspired to do so, dig deep and study the more challenging parts of Scripture, such as Revelation 19, to know and understand them. Take in information, like the articles in this issue, to develop your understanding of the Second Coming. Use trusted online resources, such as Bibleinfo
.com, to deepen your knowledge. The stronger your relationship with Jesus grows, the more you can share with your children about your Friend.
Adapt your approach to your child’s age. Once a child reaches school age, we may be tempted to delegate Bible instruction to youth pastors and Bible classes. However, Bible knowledge can lead to, but is different from, a relationship with Jesus. The best way for children to learn and grow in their relationship with Jesus is by hearing about Him from us and seeing Him work in our lives. As our children’s intellectual and emotional capacities grow, so should our conversations. Revisit the Bible stories they learned at your knee, and talk about the deeper layers and applications in the stories, particularly in the life of Jesus. This depth allows our children to know Jesus as more than a story in a book.
Minister to each child according to his or her learning style. The story of Jesus can be, and has been, told in multiple ways. Try different methods to build your child’s relationship with Jesus. Draw pictures, put on a play, listen to audio stories, build with plastic bricks, watch a movie, or ask your child to explain a story. Creating opportunities for your child to connect with Jesus in a style that is relevant to him or her will deepen the relationship.
Pray for your child. Praying for our children to grow in their relationship with Jesus is one of the most humbling activities we can engage in. God delights to hear our prayers for His children. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” ( Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV). God will never tire of hearing our prayers for our children. His plans and hopes for them exceed even ours.
Believe that God called you to this task. Parenting is difficult. There will be days when you feel like an abject failure. As I write, I’m reminded of things I could have done better or more faithfully with my own children. It’s easy to be sidetracked by the negative, but the reality is that God places our children in our lives because He trusts us to raise them. Our intentions will never manifest perfectly, but every moment we spend telling our children about Jesus will bear fruit. Our authentic and transparent faith will leave a lasting impression on their lives.
Telling your children about Jesus’ second coming
Talking to our children about Jesus’ second coming will happen naturally as their relationship with Him grows. There is beauty in anticipating His return. The Scriptures show us a picture full of hope. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” ( John 14:1–3, NKJV).
These verses describe a beautiful home where we will be wanted and welcomed as children of God. Jesus is preparing that home for us already. I imagine Him crafting each of our homes with our unique personalities in mind. Your home might have crystal chandeliers, soaring ceilings, and shiny marble floors. I imagine mine will be small and cozy, full of plants and light and books. I can’t wait to see how Jesus surprises me.
The most beautiful part of the Second Coming, and all of eternity, is Jesus. He isn’t sending a messenger to pick us up. He wants to be with us when we make the journey home. And He’ll stay with us forever. His return will be visible and audible and fulfill every prophecy. For those who don’t know Jesus, there will be fear and trepidation. We don’t have to experience any of that—we know who’s coming, and He isn’t a stranger.
Our children’s lives will certainly feel overwhelming and disappointing at various points in time. In those moments, we can pray that they will hold on to their faith—that they will spend time talking to Jesus and reading His Word. And pray that in those moments, they will find hope and peace in His promises. When Jesus is as familiar as a favorite relative, our children can find joy as they anticipate His arrival.
Jean Boonstra is an associate speaker for the Voice of Prophecy ministry and executive producer and writer for Discovery Mountain, a faith-exercising podcast for children. Jean is committed to encouraging women and is a frequent speaker at women’s retreats across North America.