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What do I tell my children when a tragedy happens?

Satan knows he cannot destroy God, so he tries to hurt Him by hurting and discouraging God’s children. Satan is sick with his hatred and bitterness and wants people to follow him rather than knowing Christ. He wants people to believe that God does not care, that He is interested in us only to do things for Him, and has left us to sink or swim on our own.

The truth is that God is very much interested in us, and promises to take these terrible things that happen and work it together for good (Romans 8:28). The good that “works together” is for God’s children to depend upon Him, to know Him, to love Him, to receive His love, and to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). The Bible tells us that what some people mean for evil, God can use to bring the life of Christ into our lives.

In Genesis, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. He experiences many, many heartaches and trials as a result. But by Genesis 45, he tells his brothers that God actually provided for himself and countless other people out of those hurtful events. Joseph must have felt rejection, hurt and extreme loneliness out of being separated from his family. His birthright was to live in his father’s home, and to enjoy the provision of his earthly father. Joseph had the choice to be resentful, or trust God to make something beautiful out the hurtful situation. He chose to turn to God for healing. He chose to plan for the future. An entire nation was blessed by his decision. We also must decide what to do with hurt, anger, frustration, fear, and insecurity we may feel from tragic events. Like Joseph we must choose our response to this and other tragic events that will occur. We can choose to become fearful, bitter, resentful, and to try and control the events of our lives. We can also choose to allow the Life of Christ to enter the situation and give control to God. With the latter response, one will choose to release the offender to God, and trust Him to be our security.

Teaching your children to trust God in their lives means taking some practical steps: First, talk about facts of the event. Encourage your children to talk about what happened, what it looked like, maybe facts such as what they were wearing at the time. Secondly, encourage the child to talk about how they felt, help them identify their emotions. Don’t express shock or shame. Just listen. You may use tools such as books, drawing pictures, art projects, and other items which are age appropriate to help them talk about the event. Third, teach your children about what to do when they are faced with dangerous situations. Remind them that they, like Joseph, choose what they will do during this time of stress.