Q: My small grandchildren have seen news coverage of the death and destruction brought on by the recent hurricanes. They've asked me why God allows these things to happen to so many people. How can I answer the question in a simple way that they can understand?
—Mary Riggs, Bothell, Washington
A: That's a tough question to answer even when an adult asks it! It's even tougher to explain to children—the sovereignty of God, the difference between His perfect will (what He desires) and His permissive will (what He allows). But it's so important to respond to earnest questions from our little ones, to take the opportunity to teach them and encourage them in their growing faith.
Sometimes it helps to go back to the beginning—literally—to Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve. Sin destroyed God's perfect paradise, and ever since our fallen world has been plagued by every kind of evil, including natural disasters. Sometimes God does miraculously intervene in the storms of life—He stills the wind and the waves (Matt. 8:25-26). Sometimes He gives us the courage and strength to go through them. Jesus promised He would never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). In Isaiah 43:2, God says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you … "
Hard times can make people think about what really matters in life. God uses tragedy to turn their hearts toward Him. And He gives us as believers the privilege of being His hands and feet—of sharing His love in a very real way—by serving those in need. Too often we focus on the negative news; we forget how many amazing stories of love and sacrifice come out of suffering. Talk to your grandchildren about the courage and bravery, the unselfishness, the dedication people have shown in reaching out to those whose lives were devastated by the storms. Talk about the important lessons we learn from our experiences, both good and bad.