Recently my town suffered a devastating loss as two young boys were killed in a tragic ATV accident. North of us friends and families in Oklahoma are walking through the utter devastation of an F-5 tornado. For those of you with kids, I know many of them might be asking difficult questions: Why did they have to die? Are they in heaven? Why did God let this happen?
As a parent and as a Christian, there is simply no easy way to answer these questions. As you talk with your children about these tragic incidents, here are a few helpful things to remember:
- Be authentic. If you’re struggling with this tragic event, let them know it. Don’t feel like you have to have it all together for their sake. Some events are simply too overwhelming to handle easily.
- Don’t try and give a pat answer. This isn’t the time to recite a trite Bible verse and be done with it. Acknowledge the pain of the loss.
- Remember that we live in a broken world where tragedies happen. Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time your child encounters tragedy. This is one of the unfortunate effects of sin in the world.
- Reaffirm that God is in control. We may never know why this happened, but that doesn’t change that God is ultimately in control. His ways are higher than ours. We may not understand it or like it at times, but God is still in control of everything that happens.
- The eternal salvation of those lost are in God’s hands, not ours. The question many of your older children will ask is, “Are they in heaven?” The short answer is, “We don’t know.” That’s between them and God.
- Pray. Spend time praying for the affected families and those left behind. Pray with your children for them.
- Support the families. Long after our attention moves onto something else, the affected families will still bear the scars of this tragic event. For those that personally know them, support them. Be there for them. Healing from this event will take years, not months.