How to Talk to Children about Disasters, Part 2
Editor’s Note: Read How to Talk to Children about Disasters, Part 1 Here
The spring of 2011 has been a season of weather disasters in the U.S. To all of us watching, and especially to those of us who have experienced it, we are sure there have never been so many tornadoes and damaging storms. And the Mississippi flooding seems epic. Why these weather conditions are happening can’t be fully explained, even though meteorologists nationwide are offering theories. What can be known is the truth found in Matthew 7:24-27. It’s the second truth to teach your children in Theology 101.
2. Storms will come.
The temptation as moms is to teach our children feel-good verses like this one: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” (Matthew 7:7), or this verse: “Do all things without grumbling or questioning,” (Philippians 2:14). I liked that one best as a mom. I was hoping it would work like a magic wand. Sadly, it did not.
The point is that we must teach our children all of the truth about God, even the parts that are hard. Jesus said, “… In the world you will have tribulation, …” (John 16:33). He does not lie, so He tells us honestly that life will be hard. In Isaiah 45:7, God speaks these words about Himself that are truly shocking to our human thinking. “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.” Did you feel the clash in your soul as you read “well-being” and “calamity” in one sentence? There is no understanding available for this truth. We cannot grasp this one with our finite minds, but we dare not ignore it.
While safety and peace are to be pursued in this life at home and in our communities, our children need to understand that permanent safety and peace will only happen one day in heaven. Moms and dads need to work hard to create a healthy home environment, but also teach that there will be storms that disrupt life. We cannot stop them any more than we can stop the wind of a tornado.
Perhaps your children know the song about the wise man and the foolish man Jesus talked about. The wise man built on the rock and the foolish man built on the sand. The song is memorable, but your job as a parent is to teach your children about the Rock. The song won’t be of much use when the storms come in their little lives, but the Rock of Christ will.
3. God can be trusted when disasters come.
How can we trust a God who tells us He creates calamity? And why should we?
Because His character is good and pure. Though He brings disaster, He never has evil motives. He acts out of justice and love toward His creatures. How do you explain this to a child? Take them to the Bible again. Show them Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Talk about this promise and what it means to love God and to be called to His purpose.
Another verse of great hope and comfort is Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” He never changes, which is wonderful news to you, me, and our children. A God who changes can’t be trusted, but a God who never changes can be trusted implicitly, even if we don’t understand why He does what He does.
Consider this question from Job, “… Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? …” (2:10). We all want the good, but we never want the adversity.
It begins with us moms and dads. Do we trust God with adversity? Do we complain when disaster strikes, or are we modeling for our children hearts that trust God’s character in all things? We need these talking points to direct our children to God’s Word — the Rock upon which we must each build. But if we don’t show them by our attitudes and actions that we believe these truths, they won’t believe them either.
Next week, I promise the story of the mom I mentioned before! Stay tuned.