Donuts and Disappointments: Teaching Our Preschoolers About Hope 

God has placed patterns and examples around us to teach the virtue of hope. As parents, we journey with our little ones, seeing God acting in the pages of Scripture and in our world, keeping His promises perfectly. As He blesses us with many fulfilled hopes on earth, He shows us a glimmer of our ultimate hope—eternity with Him. But what about hope in the hard times? When my kids need hope the most I am usually hanging on by a thread myself. In Romans 5:5 Paul says “hope does not put us to shame.”  This can also be translated as “hope does not disappoint” (NKJV) or “lead to disappointment” (NLT). This is hard for me to believe; I am familiar with all degrees of disappointment. 

My grandma made great glazed donuts. Last spring, I decided to pass on the sticky, tasty tradition to my children. Things were going perfectly as the girls enjoyed cutting out the dough circles. I put a lid on my hot oil pot as the recipe said in order for the donut to puff up nicely. To my dismay, my first donuts were completely scorched from oil that was too hot! I turned the stove off to let the oil cool down. The donuts at the end soaked up too much oil because they were fried in oil that wasn’t hot enough. Yuck. I promptly added “candy thermometer” to my mental shopping list. Sore tummies and unfinished donuts is not what I had in mind for our family project. Talk about a deflated hope! 

As I have needed to turn from earthly hopes and focus my hope on Jesus, I have reached a new place of humility and dependence on the Lord. I am trusting that my efforts to remain hopeful in God are influencing my children for the better. My 4 and 2-year-old (and maybe the baby too) pick up on lots of things by taking cues from us, their parents. Like many things, hope is both taught and modelled. Opportunities arise and God gives us the grace and wisdom to talk with them about expectations and hopes and to process disappointment and forgiveness. 

Our momma hearts wish our children could bypass the pain of suffering to learn hope.

We want their expectations to be reality. We want to always keep our promises. We want to announce we are going to Grandma’s and then get to do it. In a fallen world we can’t put our hope in those things. We can, without wavering, have solid confidence in Jesus’ justification for sinners. Jesus’ first coming was not delayed or cancelled and His second coming won’t be either. As Carol Garborg puts it, hope in God is not an “I-hope-it-happens-but-I’m-not-sure-it-will” kind of hope but an  “I-know-it-will-happen-it’s-just-a-matter-of-when” hope (The Family Book of Advent). The hope of Christians is not wishful thinking, but sure promises from God. Failed expectations are all too normal right now but hope firmly placed in God through Jesus is not just for mommys and daddys. While we make donuts and deal with disappointments, we remember–and recall for our children–that God is in control of everything. Boys and girls will not be put to shame. 

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About Nicole Martin

Nicole is married to Trevor, who serves as co-pastor with another pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in the small town of Emo, Ontario, Canada. She grew up in rural Manitoba and attended Briercrest College (Saskatchewan), graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry. Nicole joined the ranks of pastors’ wives when the couple moved to northwestern Ontario in Fall 2015. Nicole’s opportunities to serve the Lord and people around her are taking on new dimensions as she and Trevor experience vocational ministry together and persevere in parenting their two preschool girls with the third one on the way! She particularly enjoys hosting with her family and connecting with other moms one-on-one.