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Six Tips about How To Talk To Your Kids About Pain as A Christian

By Matthew Lewis

Pain is all around us. Devastating storms, killer earthquakes, record-setting fires and horrific acts of evil dominate recent news headlines. Then, there's the pain in your own household. Your marriage falls apart, your child loses a friend to leukemia, your mom passes away, etc.

Kids and adults alike ask the questions: "Why would an all-loving, all-powerful God allow these things to happen?" "Is God just unable to stop this kind of evil? If so, why call Him all-powerful?" "Is God unwilling to stop this kind of evil? Then why call Him all-loving?"

So, what should we tell our kids when they observe (or even experience) evil?

Our conversations will certainly look (and sound) differently depending on the age and maturity of the kids. In all the years that I have seen these topics discussed the “problem of evil” with youth, several key issues continue to dominate the discussions.

When explaining why an all-loving, all-powerful God would allow natural disasters (or human evil), consider incorporating the following truths:

1. Eternity can help them cope.

All of us hope to live a long life free from pain or hardship.

What if we knew, in advance, we were going to live forever and experience a pain-free existence for all eternity? Would we view pain and suffering in our temporal life differently (even if it lasted for many years) if we knew we would eventually experience bliss forever?

Remind your kids that God offers us life beyond the limits of our short, material existence; we are eternal creatures. All experiences of evil must be considered in light of eternity.

2. God loves them enough to allow them free-agency.

A loving God would create a world in which love is possible, right? Love requires each of us to act freely, because true love cannot be coerced.

God didn’t create us as robots; instead, He gave us free will so our expressions of love would be genuine. But, this also means we have the freedom to ignore God’s commandments and behave badly.

Remind your kids that much of the evil we experience in the world is the result of humans who freely choose to disobey. God may allow some evil because free agency is required for love to exist in our world.

3. Some suffering can actually develop our character.

As a parent, you’re probably more concerned with your kids’ character than their comfort. Character is far more likely to be developed through adversity than advantage. Hard times can bring out the best in all of us, providing us with opportunities to help those in need, rise to the occasion, and come to the rescue.

Remind your kids that God may allow us to suffer discomfort because He knows it will develop our character, especially since we are eternal creatures. God cares more about our eternal character than current comfort.

4. God Can Use Some Evil to Call Us to Himself.

Let's be honest - many of us ignore God until something bad happens to get our attention. Tragedy has a way of redirecting our thoughts and pointing us to a life beyond our current struggle.

If God has designed us to be with Him in eternity, He might use hardship to refocus those of us who haven’t been paying attention. Remind your kids that some forms of evil may simply be part of God’s loving effort to point us in the right direction.

5. Evil is hard to explain because we aren’t God.

God’s knowledge is vastly greater than ours, and His eternal plan may be beyond our comprehension. If we understood God’s larger plans, we might understand the role of evil in our lives.

French Dominican priest, Jacques-Marie-Louis Monsabré once said, “If God would concede me His omnipotence for twenty-four hours, you would see how many changes I would make in the world. But if He gave me His wisdom too, I would leave things as they are.”

6. True evil requires God as a standard of true righteousness.

While the existence of evil might at first appear to be a strong evidence against the existence of God, it may actually be the best evidence for God’s existence.

C.S. Lewis, the novelist, poet, and Christian apologist, once wrote: “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” (Mere Christianity, 38)

Unless, as Lewis suggested, we are prepared to dismiss evil as nothing more than whatever fails to please our “private fancies,” we need a transcendent “straight line” so we can recognize the “crookedness” of evil.

True evil does exist, and it’s more than simply a matter of opinion (if this was the case, we could eliminate evil by simply changing our mind). God’s holy standard of “rightness” helps us recognize true evil when we see it. Evil demonstrates the existence of God.

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