How to Talk to Children about Disasters, Part 3
After falling in love at first sight, marrying eight days later, then moving to the new husband’s village, a young couple began life together.
It was the early 1900’s in the country of Turkey. Armenians by heritage, they were part of a minority population within the country of Turkey. Life in their village was pleasant once again after the previous decade when many families suffered the unjust ethnic killing of many Armenian men and boys by the majority-ruling Turks.
After several years, God blessed these two with daughters, Elizabeth and her little sister Acabie. A happy childhood was theirs with parents who loved them, taught them skills for life, and most importantly taught them the truth from the Bible.
But in 1914, World War I began, and with it life changed forever. Turkish soldiers began coming through the village demanding food, housing, and forcing the Armenian men to join their ranks. Elizabeth’s mother and father toiled to meet the demands, comforted their neighbors and friends, and prayed constantly for the grace to endure.
When Elizabeth was eleven, her father was arrested and beaten and left for dead. Tomboy that she was, she followed the soldiers until she found her father, lying on the floor. On her knees with her face to his, she listened as he said his last words to her: “Never give up Christ no matter how much you must suffer.” Then he prayed with her for her to be strong.
Months later after fleeing their village to what they hoped was a safer place, it was her mother’s turn to face death. Only those Armenians who were married to Turks, belonging to Turks as servants, or those who would renounce Christ would be spared. She, too, said to her young daughters, “I cannot give up Christ. I know that He will watch over you both.” They sang together, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.” The next day she was led away with thousands of other Christian Armenians to exile and death.
Not all disasters our children will face in this life will be natural. Many will be man-induced, like the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. What will you say when these awful calamities strike? Will you have the courage to point your children to Jesus, as did this Armenian mother?
As we teach our children about the difficult times in life, there are two final topics for conversation.
4. God did not promise an easy life.
This may be a topic for older children and teens because Jesus teaches clearly that, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
The Armenian family suffered disaster in their lives because of the hatred of men. Though in America today this is thankfully not a reality, our children will experience ridicule or rejection in many situations when they stand up for Jesus. Being identified with Christ is not a road to a blissful life, but rather it is a choice to identify with a Savior who suffered and tells us we, too, will suffer for following Him.
5. God will make all things right.
The great hope for all of us who have chosen to follow Christ with our lives is the promise of eventual justice. God said, “’Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,'” (Romans 12:19). We can know, as the Armenian family believed, that God will repay the evil suffered in this life because of our loyalty as Christians.
Another promise our children need to know is found in Revelation 21:4–5. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new. …”
In the end, we as moms need to remember that it is good for our children to see and experience suffering as God brings it. God will not give them too much, nor will He abandon them. In these difficult situations, our children have the opportunity to develop compassion and empathy for others. When we and our children suffer loss we understand more fully when others experience loss. And growing empathy is the antidote to selfishness, which is what God desires to diminish in our lives and our children.
The following two resources would be helpful as you have discussions with your children about disasters.
With captivating true stories to read as a family, this seven-day interactive devotional from speaker and bestselling author Barbara Rainey saturates minds and hearts with memorable accounts and vivid illustrations of true heroes who made noble choices. Encounter real-life heroes right in your living room—and begin to grow together in character as a family.
Each day also includes:
- A key Bible verse
- Questions to discuss together
- A suggested prayer
- A personal record of your family’s character as it relates to these stories
It’s a Scripture-memory tool. Seeds of Courage is a CD full of fabulous music. It’s both! Seeds combines songs that use Scripture for lyrics with strongly produced music that is varied in style to create a sound the whole family will love. Each song helps a child (and any adults in the vicinity) memorize one or more Bible verses from the NIV.
Call Me (Jeremiah 33:3)
Do not Be Anxious (Philippians 4:6–7)
Ask, Seek, Knock (Matthew 7:7–8)
Out of the Mud (Psalm 40:1–2)
Young (1 Timothy 4:12)
Convinced (Romans 8:38–39)
The Good Song (Psalm 34:10)
Never Be Shaken (Psalm 62:1–2)
Crushed (Psalm 34:18)
Do Everything In Love (1 Corinthians 16:13–14)
Refuge and Strength (Psalm 46:1–2)
Do Not Fear (Isaiah 41:10)
This world can be a scary place, especially when you’re growing up and learning about it all. Our tendency can be to shrink away—to run and hide. But God would have us live with courage and confidence—things we can experience only when we understand that God is on our side. The songs on Seeds of Courage bring verses of hope, confidence, and security that allow the child of God to be strong, bold, and courageous.
Recommended for ages 4 to 14.