Teaching Your Children to Make Sense of History

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To make sense of history — whether world history or American history — we must begin in two places: the Garden of Eden and Calvary.

Yesterday I worked on an ending for a lesson about the Civil War in our new update of America the Beautiful for grades 5-8. In the list of the most stressful jobs you can have, I think writing an American history in the year 2020 has to qualify somewhere pretty high on that list. Whew! With a few tweaks from Ray, this is what I wrote:

The Civil War continues to be one of the most controversial and difficult periods in American history. It is important to understand that every person involved in that war was a human being created in God’s image and also a person who did right some of the time and wrong some of the time. That has been true of every person who has ever lived, except Jesus Christ. In this unit, we have tried to speak with compassion about the people who were involved in and affected by the war. Americans disagreed or there would not have been a war. People in the same family disagreed. Sometimes one man fought for the North and his own brother fought for the South.

Understanding the Civil War helps us to understand our own times more completely. It helps us to see the importance of forgiveness and moving forward. Learning about the Civil War reminds us of the blessings of peace, and it reminds us to live lives of peace. Remember Paul’s words:

If possible, so far as it depends on you,
be at peace with all men.
Romans 12:18

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

It is important that children — and adults — understand that no one is right all the time. It is important that we understand that people can change and that they do change. It is also important to remember that none of us is all-knowing. God is all-knowing, but we are not.

Again, an understanding of history starts in the Garden of Eden and at Calvary. People sin. Jesus died to forgive us.

Sketch of people in a boat by Alfred R. Waud, Civil War illustrator. Courtesy Library of Congress.

We are all in the same boat and we all have the same offer for getting out of it.

. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
being justified as a gift by His grace
through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus . . .
Romans 3:23-24

No matter how bleak the world looks we can always count on God. He took our most horrific problem — sin — and sent His Son to take care of it. He can handle whatever stresses we have whether in our homes or in the great big world outside of it. We can rest in His promises.

But the Lord abides forever;
He has established His throne for judgment,
And He will judge the world in righteousness;
He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.
The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed,
A stronghold in times of trouble;
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Psalm 9:7-10



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