Here are four things you can tell your children or grandchildren when natural disasters happen.
God is Sovereign
When bad things happen in this world, they happen to people of faith and people who are not saved, so it’s a matter of fact that bad things happen to both good and bad people. It’s not a matter of whether they deserve it or not…although God may use disasters as a judgment, but we can’t assume ever disaster that hits a nation, city, or family is because they are ungodly or deserve it. Sometime people say some very cruel things, like with the recent Hurricane Harvey where people lost just about everything, and someone said, “That’s what they get for living so close to the ocean,” but is that fair? Wouldn’t we be putting the blame for their loss on them? The Bible teaches us, and we must teach our children this, that God is sovereign over all things; storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, and any other natural or manmade disaster. God is never caught by surprise like we are. If children are taught that God is aware of everything, then it may comfort them to know that God knows what’s happening and we have His promise to never leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5). That’s something even we adults need to remember.
Children have a natural fear of nature when it begins to show itself, like with thunder and lightning, hail, winds, and so on, but if we remember that Jesus calmed the storm, we can realize that the storm (or anything else) can do no more than God allows. There are no renegade storms…they are all under God’s control, and further, we can be “sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39). If children and grandchildren understand that a child of God cannot be snatched from Jesus or the Father’s hands (John 10:28-29), then they can hopefully feel safe when things look anything but secure. There is a peace knowing that dad and mom or grandfather or grandmother have peace about them in the storms in life. They will either pick up on your fear and worry, or they’ll pick up on your reassurance and calmness. They are watching for your reaction, and your reaction will likely affect their reaction to natural disasters.
A Fallen World
When some of the Jews came to Jesus and “told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices” (Luke 13:1), Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3), so the belief that bad things happen to bad people is wrong. Besides, I can’t find anywhere in the Bible that says people are good. In fact, it’s just the opposite (Rom 3:10-12, 23), so to say that a natural disaster hits a nation or city or person must be a judgment from God is to almost speak for God. We can’t know if God sends a natural disaster as a form of judgment because sometimes natural disasters bring many people to saving faith, and it’s just a fallen world. Time and chance happen to us all (Eccl 9:-1-11). Jesus points this out when He says, “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:4-5). The fall of the Tower of Siloam was considered a disaster, although it was a manmade one, probably due to shoddy construction materials and labor, but Jesus is saying that we can’t look at everything that happens to someone or some city or nation and say, “Well, they had it coming to them so it must be God’s judgment.” We are best to stay silent on such things because we simply don’t know.
A New World Coming
I was reading out of Isaiah the Prophet and he has some of the most beautiful chapters about a restored earth that are in the Bible. He also writes about the restoration of Israel. Give your children and grandchildren a peek at the future, and read to them about a world where the harvest almost overtakes the plowing, which means there’s an overabundance of everything, unlike anything today where millions of people are starving and the world is a dangerous place to live. In the coming kingdom, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). Doesn’t that stand in stark contrast to the world today where if the lamb lied down with the wolf, the lamb would have been in the wolf’s stomach? Tell your children and grandchildren that even though it’s a dangerous world today, it won’t be that way forever, because someday, “the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:7c-9a).
There are going to be some very hard questions your children and grandchildren will ask when natural disasters happen. They’ll want to know why and what God thinks about it and why God didn’t stop it, but what they’re really doing is seeking security in their questions. They’ll want to know about their own security and of those they love. Basically, they’ll want to know if they’re going to be safe, so children must be reassured that God is sovereign over everything that happens, and not one leaf drops from a tree without His knowledge. Children will need to know that nothing in this world can keep them from God and that in this world, bad things are bound to happen…but that too will end someday when Jesus returns and ushers in the Kingdom of God to earth. That’s when they’ll see the end of suffering, sorrow, tears, and even the death of death itself (Rev 21:4). Even I look forward to that day, and I’m sure your children and grandchildren do too…so tell them about it…and don’t stop telling them about it.
May God richly bless you
Pastor Jack Wellman
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