No matter where your family lives in the world, reports of difficult world events have filled our homes and left us all feeling grief and uncertainty. Our children are not unaware. They hear about these events at school, from friends, and through social media. In the midst of scary and often devastating current events, how do we talk to our children about what is happening?
1. Focus on God’s character.
When difficult times come, how can we trust God? By knowing He is trustworthy. How can we find refuge in His care? By knowing His power and love.
It’s important to talk about world events in the context of what we are teaching or reminding our children about God’s character. They need to know who He is and what He promises to do. Focusing on God’s character expands their faith as they learn about and experience God in deeper ways. Talk often as a family about what you know to be true about God’s character:
- God is unchanging. What was true about Him yesterday is still true about Him today. (Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17)
- God is powerful. Even the wind and the waves obey Him. (Psalm 147:4-5, Matthew 8:27)
- God is always present. There is nowhere we can go that He is not there. (Psalm 139:7-12)
- God is compassionate. He deeply cares for us in our suffering. (Psalm 34:18; Lamentations 3:22)
- God is faithful. We can always depend on Him. (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 119:90)
2. Remember God’s unchanging purposes.
All of human history, from the creation of the world until the present time, is part of God’s unfolding story. God has always been at work in the world, blessing His people and making Himself known. He uses every human event for His purposes, even things that others intend for evil. Nothing – no government, natural disaster, world crisis – can stop what God is doing (Genesis 50:20; Job 42:2; Psalm 33:11; Isaiah 46:10).
As you talk about current events, frame them as a small part of God’s bigger story. Remind your children that even when we can not yet see it, God is at work. He is using all things for good, and working through His people so that others might learn of His salvation and hope for the very first time (Romans 8:28; Psalm 67:1-2).
3. Reflect on God’s past faithfulness.
Chances are, if you’re an adult who has followed Jesus for some time, you have firsthand experience with how God fulfills His promises. Our children are just beginning to experience these truths. As you talk about the difficult things happening in our world, include stories of how God is at work, providing and caring for those in need. Reflect on how God has used past events in history or how He has cared for your own family in difficult times. Let your children see God’s character on display in how He works for and through His church.
4. Allow space for strong emotions.
It’s natural for our children to feel fear, grief, sadness, or anger as they learn about world events. Acknowledge and validate their emotions. Share your own feelings related to these events. Read Bible stories or verses where others expressed their emotions to God. Then help your children process their emotions in healthy, age-appropriate ways. They may need to cry to release the sadness. Or they maybe need to vocalize their fears so these do not grow larger inside their minds. Model how to take those emotions to Jesus, who knows us, loves us, and comforts us.
5. Provide opportunities for them to respond.
Sometimes, the first people to respond during difficult circumstances are children. Young Samuel heard God’s voice in a time when God wasn’t speaking to adults due to their sin and disobedience (1 Samuel 3:1, 8-10). A young servant girl saw her captor suffering and compassionately pointed Naaman to a prophet who could help him find healing from God (2 Kings 5:1-3).
As your children learn about current events, they may want to help. Trust the Holy Spirit’s ability to work through your child. Find age-appropriate opportunities that allow them to be a part of bringing light into darkness. It might be something as simple as locating a country on a world map and making a commitment to pray. You can also take an active role in welcoming refugees or supporting others who are. Give financially to ministries or churches on the ground serving people in need. Do not just tell your children how God works. Let them see and experience it themselves.
Perfect timing for this article! An outline that is simple enough to remember, thorough and appropriate whether working with children in relative safety, or in harms way.
Thank you so much for this! A few days ago my 5 year old daughter was asking about different world crises and we had a talk in which afterwards she drew pictures depicting her grief then we prayed. It’s good to have a resources and action steps as parents.
Can’t believe I’m revisiting this after the loss of my dearly beloved husband just 20 days ago. The children are navigating as we talk about heaven and God’s sovereignty. Hard but still thankful we planted these seeds.