It seems that tragedy has been at the forefront of the news media the past few years. We have seen via television the tsunami disaster in Asia, the effects of Hurricane Katrina, the flooding here in West Virginia, the earthquake in Pakistan, and the heart-wrenching mine fatalities. We hear virtually every day about children being abused physically and sexually and sometimes killed. As a mother, it is especially difficult for me to see the devastating effects these disasters have on children.
Over the course of these tragedies, the questions have arisen, "Where was God in all of this?" and "Why did God let this happen?" My own children have asked these kinds of questions, and I suppose it is a natural thing for them to ask, since we've always taught them that God is all powerful. Some individuals who have been interviewed in the media have gone so far as to say that God directly caused this or that tragedy to occur for some specific reason. God has been mistakenly blamed for many things! How should we answer our children's questions in regard to God's place during tragedy?
First, God created all things in the beginning of time. Plant life, animals, and man were all created with the ability to re-create on their own. Genesis 1:11 says that each type of plant had seed within itself so that it could multiply. In Genesis 1:22, God told birds and sea creatures to "be fruitful and multiply." After God had created land animals and man, He told man to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). Sometimes, a baby will die or be born with deformities. God does not "take them" or "give" them physical problems. Sometimes lack of a good diet or exposure to certain environmental factors can be the cause of death or illness. Other times, heredity plays a part. Sometimes, no one knows what causes a child to be born with physical defects. Through His creation God also allows weather to change and produce different conditions. Genesis 1:7 says that "God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament." As God's creation now progresses on its own and forces of nature combine and react with each other, bad things can sometimes happen. Since the earth is so populated, humans are sometimes hurt or killed because they live in an area where a natural disaster occurs. Our children need to understand that this is what happened during tragedies like the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the floods of West Virginia.
Next, our children need to be shown that some tragedies occur because of sin. When children are murdered or abused, God is not at fault. Satan is at fault. God created us with the ability to choose right or wrong. Some children are born, through no fault of their own, to mean and evil parents who choose to mistreat them. Some children have simply innocently crossed paths with an evil person who chooses to do them harm. Proverbs 6:17 lists "hands that shed innocent blood" as one of the seven things that are an abomination to God. Those who do these kinds of things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).
Last, some tragedies occur simply because of bad choices. When someone chooses to drink alcohol and then drives his car and kills himself or someone else, the blame does not lie with God. When a person chooses to have ungodly sexual relations and ends up with a sexually transmitted disease, the responsibility rests with that person. The soul, even more than the physical disease, needs to be cured. We are responsible for our choices, and we and our children must learn to take responsibility for our choices and actions instead of blaming God.
Finally, teach your children that God is good, as Psalm 106:1 teaches. God does not strike out at this or that person with punishment as he did in Old Testament times. "He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45).
Tell your children that, no matter what tragedy may come their way, if they are prepared to meet their Creator, death will be the beginning of life. Read to your children about heaven where there will be no more disasters or death (Revelation 21 and 22). 3049 Tyler Highway, Sistersville, WV 26175.
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