For the past several weeks, I have settled my kids down for the night without fear. I’ve kissed them, prayed with them and walked away with the knowledge that they are safe. But when I close their bedroom doors, I immediately feel guilty and, quite honestly, a little angry with God.
Why do my kids get to sleep soundly in their beds when others are sheltering in bunkers? Why do my kids not have to wake up to air-raid sirens or the sound of gunfire in the distance? What gives my family the right to not worry about being bombed or having my husband and my kids’ daddy conscripted to serve in the army? Why do we have the luxury of tuning out or turning off the news?
I’m not here to share copious amounts of wisdom or theology that explains why, but can I share a few simple things that I have learned? It’s OK to question God and it’s OK to feel angry. It’s not OK to stay in that anger and never be motivated to act.
When big world issues arise, when conflict or war takes place, we tend to respond in one of two ways: either we become consumed with the issues and desperately seek answers, or we completely ignore the issues and think it’s not our problem. In the West, we are blessed to not have to face many of the conflicts that our brothers and sisters around the world do. However, that does not give us free rein to pass judgment, share incorrect theology or be complacent.
So, what can we do? How do we stay involved without being consumed? How do we help when we are so far removed? How do we take our questions, anger and confusion and turn them into God-centred action? How do we live in the tension of being in the world but not of the world? And how on earth do we teach and bring our kids along on this journey?
First, we need to acknowledge a few things as adults:
- We need to remember that we don’t have all the answers, but we can rely on a God who does and reveals them in his time.
- We need to pray. I don’t mean just saying “I’ll pray for you” in passing and then forget. I mean the type of prayer that Jesus taught us—without ceasing, on our knees, crying out to God. If prayer doesn’t seem like “enough” then you may not be doing it right.
- We need to avoid becoming numb to the world and its conflict. Don’t get so complacent that it becomes “just another war.” Do we still know what’s going on and pray for Afghanistan or did we forget and move on to the next thing?
Once we’ve acknowledged some of the ways we deal (or don’t deal) with conflict, we can start to help our children throughout this process as well.
- Be real with them (while being age-appropriate). Ask what they have already heard or what they know. Help them understand that there are some people in groups or countries who make bad decisions, but that not all people in that group or country are bad.
- Remind them that good exists and that God is still in control. As humans, we can make our own decisions and sometimes we make bad ones. But even when we make bad decisions, God is still in charge and will bring good out of bad situations. Help them see all the people who are helping and talk about what your family can do to help, too.
- Pray with them. Let your kids see you on your knees. Model to them how to take your worries, fears and heartache to God.
During these last weeks, I have clung to one simple truth and taught it to my kids: in this world we will have trouble (see John 16:33), but how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news, proclaim peace and salvation (see Isaiah 52:7). We need to be people who feel for what is happening, who act in sacrificial ways, who share the gospel unashamedly and who live on our knees. And we need to raise the next generation to do the same.
Captain Bhreagh Rowe is the community ministries officer, St. Albert Church and Community Centre, Alta.
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