This is a re-post of something I wrote following the outbreak of tornadoes in Alabama in 2011. It is by no means perfect, but outlines how I answered tough questions from my own kids.
Why do bad things happen?
– All bad things really come from sin being in the world. The world was perfect. But sin didn’t just affect people, sin hurt the whole world, including nature and creation. (Romans 8:19-21) This doesn’t mean that the people hit by tornadoes sinned. It just means that our whole world is messed up by sin. Sin is that bad.
– God allows good and bad to happen to all people. Bad people experience God’s grace and goodness, and bad affects all people too. Matthew 5:45 says, “He causes his sun to shine on evil people and good people. He sends rain on those who do right and those who don’t.”
Why did God let tornadoes hurt people?
– God’s plans are different than ours. We will never totally understand the why behind much of what He does. Sometimes we can look back and see. Some answers we will never know on this earth. Isaiah 55:9 says, “The heavens are higher than the earth. And my ways are higher than your ways. My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”
– His main goal is not for people to be happy. His main goal is to bring people to Himself for His glory. Romans 8:28 says that we works ALL things together for good. And that good is His ultimate good. Not just what makes us happy.
– Suffering is a part of everyone’s life. Suffering is also a tool that God uses to bring people to Him. Lots of people don’t listen to Him until they have to. Romans 5:2-4 tells us that God sometimes uses suffering to make us more like Him.
Did God not protect those people? Will He not protect me?
– God does protect us and keep us safe. Help your child think of many, many times that he/she or your family could have been injured or injured more than they were or healed quickly. God does take care of us. Psalm 91 is an excellent reminder of this.
– There are times that God allows bad things to come into our lives. But He never leaves us alone. Never. Even in scary, dangerous times, even if we get hurt, we do not have to go through it alone (Isaiah 41:10).
– In God’s eyes, death is not the worst thing that can happen to His people. Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Death means God’s people go to Heaven and live with Him. This is good. Not bad. If we believe in Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of dying. We know we will go to Heaven.
Don’t things like this mean that God isn’t really good or kind?
– Absolutely not. God is always good. Always. Even when we don’t understand it. He always does the best thing. Again, it might not be the best thing for us as individuals, but it is the best thing for His plan. (Psalm 107:1, Nahum 1:7, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Should we help people?
– Absolutely and that is one of the good things that comes out of the tragedies. One of the jobs of God’s church is to help other people in times of need. Help your kids see that our responsibility is to pray hard and to help as much as we can. Hebrews 13:16 says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” By doing this, we share God’s love.
This is in no way comprehensive or implying that I understand it all either. I say “I don’t know” an awful lot. My fallback answer is always, “Baby, I just don’t know, but I do know that God is good, He is big, and He loves each of us so much.”