Talking to Children About Tragedy
When Tragedy Strikes
At times tragedy can blindsides us, sending ripples of pain through our family and our communities. Each person will experience suffering and tragedy, but the intensity of the pain is usually determined by our proximity to the event. It can be unbearable be at the center of the tragedy, dealing with the loss of loved one, but it can also be hard to make sense of the tragedy from a far as we watch people dealing with their pain. It is important for us as Christian parents to help our children learn to think about tragedy in a way that will help them hold tight to truth when tragedy hits close and offer help when suffering is felt by others.
Here are 5 Things to teach your children when confronted with tragedy.
1) This world is not as it should be: The world is full of pain and suffering. Everywhere we turn in life people are hurting. We will feel pain and we will watch as other do. But, this is not how life is suppose to be. The pain and suffering this life is caused by sin. Not necessarily particular sins, but by the curse that has been laid on this world as a result of walking away from God and choosing to rule ourselves instead of submit to him. Romans 8:19-24 says,
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved."
All of this world has felt the affects of sin and every person experiences things in this life that should not be. Thanks be to God that he sent his Son Jesus to make all things right again.
2) All People are Valuable: Each and every person is a piece of art from the hands of God. He knit them together in their mother womb (Psalm 139:13), he created them in his own image (Genesis 1:27), he gave them their breath and places them where they are (Acts 17:25-26). All people belong to him, and therefore have valuable to him and should be valuable to us.
3) "Disagreeing" with someone does not mean "dis-like": It is easy for our children to get confused when it comes to people who they disagree with. To disagree with someone is not the same as dis-liking them. We must teach them that a person's value extends beyond their decisions and actions. It is good when you disagree with someone to still treat them with respect and dignity. There is no place for violence toward a person or a group, no matter how different your apposing views are.
Sometimes someone's actions can be offensive or the disagreement is because of sin on someone's life, confrontation and calling to repentance can be right and good, but hatred is not an option.
Therefore, compassion is the only right response when tragedy strikes a person or group that we disagree with.
4) Jesus is the only "lasting" comfort for hurting people: With the world hurting and Christians responding with compassion, it is natural to ask the question "How can we help?"
There are many things we can do to help people in pain. A "Cold glass" of water come in many forms; hugs for weary people, food for the hungry, water when they thirst, or donations when they're in need. These are all compassionate responces to needs that people have. We should make it our goal to meet these needs, but it is important to remember that no matter how much earthly comfort we offer someone who is dealing with pain, they will never find true and lasting comfort outside of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the Gospel their eternal needs are met. Secure in their salvation, people can stand strong in the midst of any suffer because Paul tells us in Romans 8:18 that the "sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." A Gospel centered Christian can see beyond his or her pain to the glory of Christ Jesus and life everlasting with him.
5) One day everything will be as it should be again: One day this broken world will be made whole again. One day the world will not suffer but instead will be restored to the beauty and grace it once had. There will be no more shootings, no more robbery, no more hatred and no more pain. All will be restored again the newness of the creation
Revelation 21:5 says
"And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
At least this will be the experience for anyone who has repented of their sin and turned to Jesus. This is why it is so important to not only offer our help, but also offer them our hope.
Let us be parents that encourage our children to walk through life understanding the effects of sin, lovingly applying the beautiful healing salve of the Gospel to this broken world.