Mama, Why Do Bad Things Happen?

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The difficulty of explaining hard things to our children

As a parent to younger children, I’ve fielded this question a fair few times. Most recently in the context of COVID-19, but also about things like grief, climate change, and bullying. 

Why does God let that happen, Mama?

I have even been asking myself that question. Who would have thought the end of COVID-19 would mean the start of war? As I write this at the end of February, Putin has only just barrelled into Ukraine, and I shudder to think how far it will have gone before you read this in print.

So how do we explain any of these things to our children in a way that won’t terrify them? I am afraid, and perhaps so should they be. This is a scary thing to be watching unfold. The stakes get ever higher when nations speak of war. Mass casualties are a given. Nuclear war is not off the table. Then what? Is this a sign of the end times?

The Easter story is one of hope. Leading up to Lent, I attended a conversation sermon at church where we read in one of Paul’s letters that in Christ we are transformed and that the Holy Spirit is in us, and because of that we do not lose heart. 

As we journey through Lent and Good Friday, and awaken Easter morning to the empty tomb, we are a people transformed. There is hope! Life can come from death. We do not need to be afraid. We should go boldly and share the Good News, and live out Jesus’ ministry. 

It is okay to be uncertain. It is okay to be fearful of what lies ahead, but I think we should also take the opportunity to do even more to share our faith, our love, our community, with those in need. The times we are living in will surely result in many more who need our help. Many will be displaced and will seek shelter and safety far from home. 

There are so many things to be anxious about, like climate change, war, a new variant, etc. It’s too much some days. So I try to break it into manageable, tiny steps, anything at all to feel productive, like I am doing something to protect my family or help those in need. 

Even little things can help to soothe the stress a tiny little bit. Donate to the food bank; clean the house; give away clothes and toys that we don’t use for those who may be in need. Make sure we have a 72-hour emergency supply of food and water. Double down on cyber security. Hug my kids and tuck them in tight, and pray hard that we get to keep doing it, that the conflict ends peacefully and no more lives are lost. 

I don’t know why bad things have to happen, but we will do everything we can to help make it right. We can’t always control what happens in the world around us, but we can choose how we respond. As for me and my family, we will always try to respond with kindness and compassion, generosity and love.

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