The news is inundated with the events that happened in Oregon recently. An individual goes to a community college, reportedly asks people to stand up if they are a Christian. Several people stand and then are killed.
The question we ask ourselves is if we would be bold enough to stand for our faith in a similar situation. The question children and others may ask is, why did God allow it to happen, where was He?.
We teach them about God’s goodness. How God saved Daniel in the lion’s den. How He protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace. How He freed Peter from prison. God always helps people who serve Him and they don’t suffer, right? God doesn’t tell us that. In fact Jesus said in John 16:33 that:
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
We live in a fallen world that suffers from sin. We need to be honest with children, and adults, that living in this world will not always be pleasant, but even in the difficult times, God is with us.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus wants us to be out in the world telling people about Him and He will always be with us. When children, and adults, ask where was God in this tragedy, we tell them that He was there. Just like He was with Stephen in the Book of Acts. :
… When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Then they screamed at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him. They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They were stoning Stephen as he called out: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!” And saying this, he fell asleep.
Acts 7:54-60 (HCSB)
Stephen was about to be killed for sharing his faith. The people did not want to hear about God, they covered their ears, yet Stephen still had a peace from God knowing what was about to happen. In times of trial, Jesus is there comforting us. The Holy Spirit is there giving us the courage and boldness to stand for God. We don’t need to be afraid because God is there, and as Jesus said as recorded in the Book of John, we don’t need to be afraid. We can have peace, even in trouble, because Jesus has overcome the world!
Are you ready for discussions like this with children in your ministry, or your own children?
My friend Brian Dollar has written a book entitled Talk Now and Later: How to Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics. This is a great resource to help you lead kids through life’s tough topics.