Talking to Kids About Tragedy

Talking to Kids About Tragedy

The tragic devastation and death caused by the tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma yesterday gives us an opportunity to put our faith in Jesus Christ into action and also to teach our children and grandchildren.  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Pray for the victims, and especially those who have lost loved ones.  God tells us to do this: 1 Timothy 2:1- “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.”   When Paul had been delivered from a scary and life-threatening situation, he told the Corinthian believers, “God has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.” (2 Corinthians 1:10,11)

This is an excellent opportunity to put our love for others into action by praying for them, and a great opportunity to teach your children and grandchildren to pray for others, and show the love of Christ by that.  I was struck this morning by how often the word “pray” or “prayer” is associated with asking God to send the gospel to many and bring them to faith in Jesus.  It is good to particularly pray that the gospel of God’s love and salvation in Christ gives many the one thing truly lasting and reliable to hold onto in a time of devastation and loss.

2. Remember that the end of the world is coming. There is no answer to the question of why this tragedy happened at that particular time to the people of Moore, Oklahoma, but we do know that Jesus said that natural disasters are signs that the end of the world is coming.  He said in Luke 21:11, “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”

This is a time to remember that as quickly and unexpectedly as that tornado came, the end of the world will come.  And on that day, all the earthly we tend to treasure too much will be destroyed, just like everything in the path of that tornado.  This is a good time to talk to our children and grandchildren about how quickly life can end, how quickly unreliable earthly things can be taken away from us.  It’s a good time to think about the foolishness of valuing earthly things too highly, and the wisdom of clinging to God’s Word, for “the word of the Lord stands forever” (1 Peter 1:25), and clinging to Jesus, who promised, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

3. Find comfort in Jesus Christ.  Jesus said in Luke 12:38, referring to his return at the end of the world, “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready…” Through faith in Jesus, who has forgiven our sins by his death for us on the cross and conquered death for us by his resurrection, we are prepared for the end of the world or our own death.  “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

This tragedy gives us an opportunity to also talk with our kids and grandkids about how Jesus comforts us when we think of death.  We can speak openly about how any of us could die at any time, but how all who trust in Jesus have eternal life.  We can talk about what it means to know that we will all be together forever one day in heaven through faith in Jesus.  We can address their fears of death with the certainties of salvation from sin and death and hell through Jesus, and the rock-solid reliability of his promises.

Those promises include what he tells us he will do for us until he returns, including:

a)      Be with us always (Matthew 28:20- “I am with you always to the very end of the age”),

b)      Make bad things work for good (Romans 8:28- “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him”),

c)      Give us strength and help in trials and hardships (Psalm 46:1- God is our Refuge and Strength, and ever-present Help in trouble”)

d)      Never stop loving us (Isaiah 54:10- “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”)