Your children may have questions about the destructive tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma this past Monday. Your answer to these questions will impact the way your children think about God.
When something good happens like an unexpected gift or news that a biopsy was benign, it is not difficult to say that God is good. When someone who is obviously evil experiences judgement it is also easy to talk about the goodness and justice of God. But what about when the third massive tornado strikes the same town in 15 years? This third storm, an EF5 tornado, leveled neighborhoods and took the lives of children in their elementary school. Is God still good and just? What do you tell your children?
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 applies just as much to the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, as it does to every other event of life. Remember, the emphasis of the love of God and his commands is to overwhelm the heart of the parent / teacher. Children are to be taught from a heart that desires to bring honor to God above all else. If you are unsure about God’s goodness regarding events like this recent tornado, you will give your kids an uncertain view of God’s rule in this world.
We live in a world that is in rebellion to God. All of the calamities that befall people stem from consequences of man’s rejection of God’s rule in his life. But, what about those who live in Moore and their children? Were they so evil that God decided to bring destruction upon them?
Christ addressed this exact situation in a discussion with his followers. Speaking of a recent event he reminded the disciples of the deaths of eighteen who died when a tower in Siloam fell upon them. He emphatically proclaimed that the people who died were not more guilty than anyone else living in Jerusalem. Then Jesus brought the discussion back to what is really important in life. He used the these deaths as a reminder of the essentialness of repentance – without repentance, all will perish. So, along with the care and concern for those who experienced the tornado, we also have a larger perspective in which to understand God’s goodness.
Jesus’ words in Luke 13 provide a model for how to understand and talk about tragic events like the one in Moore. Oklahoma. Children are never too young to be taught about the need for repentance. Life is unpredictable and short.
“Mommy, will a tornado come to our house?”
“Sarah, we do pray that God will protect us”
“I know, but does that mean a tornado won’t come?”
“No sweetheart, it doesn’t. It is possible a tornado could hit our house. But even if that happened we know that it would be what God has planned for us.”
“But mommy, I don’t want a tornado to come here and hurt us!’
“Mommy does not want that either. But remember we have talked about this many times. What God does is always good. This world is not our home. The sad things that happen – like this terrible tornado, are reminders of how awful sin is. They remind us, all of us, you, me, daddy, all of us, that we need to repent of our sins and trust Jesus for forgiveness.”
“I know mommy, but it is still scary!”
“It is scary for me too, Sarah. But it is even more scary to not repent and not trust Jesus. Let’s pray right now that God would help us to trust him and that people everywhere will understand that they need God’s forgiveness and that they can trust Jesus for new life if they repent.”
“Okay, mommy – would you pray for me that I won’t be scared and that people would trust Jesus?”
“Of course, sweetheart! We will also pray that God will comfort the people in Oklahoma.”
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”