Today's kids face situations that many of us never faced when we were kids.
Tsunami's and other natural disasters.
And now they face the coronavirus.
It's important to prepare yourself to have conversations with children about what is happening.
One of the questions you may be called upon to answer is this...
WHY is God allowing this to happen?
This is a difficult and challenging question to answer - especially if it's a kid who is asking. It can get complicated.
And let me say this. I believe as parents and church leaders, we must be prepared to answer these types of questions. We must be proactive and walk with our kiddos through difficult times...having age appropriate conversations about what's happening.
If we are not strategic about answering these questions, we run the risk of seeing kids turn away from the faith when they are older. Teaching kids apologetics is more needed and crucial than ever before.
A prime example of this is Brad Pitt. He great up in a conservative, Baptist family that went to church faithfully. According to Brad's own words in an interview with a magazine, he said when he turned around the age of 13, he started having questions. Questions like many kids will be asking about the coronavirus.
No one at the time gave Brad any answers that made sense to him. As he got older and left home, he turned his back on the faith he had been raised in and now says he is an agnostic.
Please, please, please don't brush off the tough questions with kids. They want to own their faith and believe for themselves. That's the context they are asking the questions from.
Let's look at some points you can use to explore this question with kids.
Why is God allowing the coronavirus to spread and kill people?
First, ask the child what is happening and ask how he or she feels about it. This will give you a good sense of how much they already know and you can correct any misconceptions they may have.
Ask the child to be honest about their fears. Are they afraid? Are they stressed? Are they worried? What do they know or understand about the virus at this point?
Listen to the child and be emphatic with any concerns he or she may have.
Keep a calm voice. Let the child know you are there to help protect them and keep them safe and healthy. Let them know lots of people like scientists and doctors are working to keep us safe.
Keep a positive attitude. Be honest and don't bring a doom and gloom attitude. Keep the updates about what is happening to a minimum. If you constantly talk about it, it can begin to feel like impending doom is about to happen. Less is more for some kids when talking about something of this magnitude.
Keep balance in your conversation. Share what is happening, but also share the proactive things that are being done and specifically what they can do to help. Remind them they can take steps like washing their hands, not sharing drinks, etc.
Then move into why this is happening.
God created the world as a perfect place. Originally there was no pain, sickness, suffering or natural disasters.
God gave us the opportunity to love Him. He didn't make us like robots. He wanted us to choose to love Him.
God gave us the freedom to love Him or not. This is because without the freedom to choose there is no true love.
And with that freedom, Adam and Eve made the decision to disobey God. When this happened, the world became a different place where there was suffering, pain and disasters. In chapter 4, we see the first murder take place. The sin caused the world to become a broken place.
We still live in a broken world and with that still comes sicknesses and diseases like the coronavirus.
But He also loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, into this broken world, so that one day we could have a perfect place to live again. When we accept Jesus' gift of forgiveness, we will live forever in a place where there is no longer any death, suffering, viruses or pain.
And while we wait for Jesus' to return, we have a promise that God is always with us. Since right now we still live in the broken world, bad things happen at times to everyone. It's part of living in this broken world. But God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He is with us in the good times and the bad times. He is always, always, always there to love us and speak peace to our heart.
When bad things like the virus happens, we want God to wave a magic wand and make the virus go away immediately. But it's not always like that. Sometimes we have to go through the tough times like everyone else. But the difference for us as believers is the fact that Jesus is with us and understands how we feel. He also felt hurt and pain when He died on the cross for our sins.
As followers of Jesus, we also have other believers who can encourage us and walk with us through the tough times. That's why it is so important to stay connected to a church and have friends there who can help us and guide us. That's what the church does. We support and care for each other.
We can also think about all the good things God allows to happen to us as well. We have food to eat, a place to sleep, people around us who love us and so many great blessings God brings to us.
Our prayer is that we can raise children who have a deep faith that trusts in God in the good times and the "bad" times that come with living in this world.