Well, it's been a tough one, but I finally thought of a a craft for our Sunday School lesson on patience.
We're making pot-stands, because they stand so patiently bearing the heat of the pot (yes, I know, but you try thinking of a craft which illustrates long-suffering!). White tiles, a verse around the edges, a picture drawn in permanent textas, and voilà!
It also took me a long time to think of a Bible story illustrating patience. Abraham and Sarah waiting for their promised son? (We've just done that one.) David and Saul? (Too complicated.) Job? (How do you tell a bunch of kids about a guy whose children all died when a house blew on top of them? Let alone the festering boils, and the dead animals, and the cursing wife, and the unsympathetic comforters. Well, you probably could, but the task was beyond me.)
Then it hit me: why not do a story illustrating impatience? Of course! The Israelites in the wilderness! Travelling through a hot desert for weeks on end, with no water, not enough food, and a God who promised to care for them, whinging, whining and complaining every step of the way.
Sounds like a car trip with young children to me.
Except worse. Picture a sea of 600,000 tents, each with a family outside the door, wailing about all the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic they ate during their glory days as Egyptian slaves. "But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!" Ever tried to serve a meal up to children they don't want to eat?
No wonder Moses cried out, "Why have you made me a nursemaid to whiny baby Israel?" (Numbers 11:4-15).
I hadn't realised what a vivid, fast-paced story this was until I came to re-tell it. And it sums up so well the temptations children face every day, when they are hot and tired, or have to wait for their parents, or don't get the meal they want.
Let's pray that we all learn to be patient, cheerful and thankful under life's daily difficulties.