How Do You Explain Tornado Killings to an Eight Year Old?


Last night I received this ‘tweet’ from an FBC parent:

So (son’s name) just asked, ‘Why did God send that storm and let those kids die?’ How do you explain that to an 8 year old so he will understand?

Wow. That is some seriously difficult stuff. It’s hard for this 36 year old theological PhD pastor to understand – much less try to help an 8 year old understand.

My tweetable response (for those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, you only get 140 characters per ‘tweet’): “Short answer: God is good no matter what; we live in a world where ALL of it needs rescued by Jesus. One day it won’t be like this – heaven.

I have been thinking about this mom’s tweet. It hits home on several fronts. One, I am this family’s pastor. Two, I have an 8 year old living under my roof. My 8 year old hasn’t asked the question, but if he does how do you explain something like this to an 8 year old – so he/she will understand?

Here’s my best shot. I would try to break it down like this:

1. God made everything perfect. 

2. Sin messed everything up. 

3. God sent Jesus to fix everything. 

Though each of these truths are MASSIVELY deep and important and rich (I can feel sermon series’ rising in my bones as I type!), I would try to keep it as simple as possible.

In Genesis 1 and 2 we know God made everything and He made everything perfect. No problems. No storms. No crying. No death. No sin. No bad – Anywhere. However, in Genesis 3 we read where Adam and Eve sinned against God and did what God said not to do. When that happened, because God hates sin so much, the whole world started going crazy. God hates sin so much because it hurts His children. When sin entered God’s perfect world, everything and everybody started going bonkers. But instead of God giving us what we deserve because we sin against Him, He showed just how much He loves us. He sent Jesus to make everything all better again. Jesus went through what we deserve so we won’t have to. Jesus did everything for us. One day, He will come back a second time and will make the world the way God originally intended. It won’t always be like this.

Paul said this in Romans 8:19-21 – “For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.”

Yesterday was yet another reminder that we – as God’s people – eagerly wait for that glorious day when this stuff will be no more.

You might even want to sing a Christmas carol today. A line in “Joy to the World” goes like this:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

Yesterday we saw again the tragic affects of sin’s curse. But God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to make His blessings flow ‘far as the curse is found.’

Parents, let’s help each other here. What else would you add? How have you responded to your child?

[I saw the image posted above here and here.]

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One thought on “How Do You Explain Tornado Killings to an Eight Year Old?

  1. Becky and Johnny says:

    I just watched an interview with a mother and her two sons standing with her–safe! Half of their home was destroyed and their neighborhood. Mom hugged the two boys to her and said, “I don’t know how much of our belongings are left, but I have the most valuable to me right here!” Those boys will never forget their teacher who was willing to lie on top of her kids to try to save their lives! That is what Jesus has done for each of us! That is probably what I would tell our grandkids! “Because He Lives”, one of my favorite songs says it beautifully also. We can face tomorrow! In His Love, Becky

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