Be prepared to answer the hard questions, even if they are never asked
Grieving children have many questions. Their souls are swarming with unrest. Inside they may be screaming Where is God? Why has this happened to me? And because of their experiences, they will often conclude:
God isn’t real . . .
God doesn’t love me . . .
God isn’t kind.
These children want answers to some pretty sophisticated questions. Mine did.
Why do people die?
What will we do in heaven?
Does God answer prayers?
Be prepared. Be specific. Let the Word of God, and the love of God, inform every answer you give.
Here’s my heartfelt encouragement: Read the Word. Pray. Ask God for wisdom. Do not allow yourself to avoid discussing the very questions that, if left unanswered, may lead a child into rebellion, depression, self-hate, or unbelief. Press in. The maturity of our faith and hope in Jesus will help navigate grieving kids through their dark valley. Count on it!
You may not be able to answer every question. Ultimately behind all of a grieving child’s questions, though, is a deep need to be reassured of God’s goodness. We have the love of Jesus, living inside of us, to give them that assurance. We can all testify of the extraordinary ways God has been good to us, especially when we’ve faced difficulties. And we have the Bible that gives us example after example of the ways God has cared for individuals facing terrible challenges, saving them out of distress. The revelation of God’s goodness produces faith and hope for the future.
A sorrowful child may not even be old enough to articulate the questions, doubts, and fears she has. Someone has to anticipate and answer even the unasked questions with the hope and comfort of God’s Word. I have found even the most fearful and dejected children will respond to God’s words of adoration for them, when spoken again and again.
The emotions and behaviors that come with childhood grief are raw and rough. The challenge of ministering to a grieving child is, in many ways, a challenge to our faith and maturity in Christ. What will you do when you are called on to minister to one of these little ones? Your first thought might be Ugh. Mine was. But I hope your next thought, and every one thereafter, will be . . .
Jesus, You promise to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. You will comfort and console all who mourn. You give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Secure these little ones in Your goodness and love. Make them strong oaks, for Your glory’s sake. Here I am Lord. Use me.