Early childhood years are formative in shaping a child’s perception of God. This perception will, in turn, determine a child’s intimacy with Him. When tragedy strikes, young children feel confused, hopeless, and angry. They question God’s worth, as well as their own. Their experience will often lead them to false conclusions about both. That is why it is never more important, than in the wake of death and loss, that a child is taught about the goodness of God. And it is never more important to reinforce these biblical truths: God is good. God is with you. God loves you. God has eternally good plans for your life.
As an organization dedicated to bringing the hope of the Gospel to grieving children, we want kids to be certain of God’s love for them, and certain of the eternally good plans He has for them. We want grieving children to be so impacted with the knowledge of who God is, and what He has said in His Word, that they will live powerful, faith-filled lives in close relationship with Him.
Grief Is a Spiritual Dynamic
The Bible says grief is a spiritual dynamic; it’s a force that affects the spirit of a person. Being broken-hearted is a spiritual state of brokenness that requires spiritual healing.
· “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13
· “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18
A broken heart and a broken spirit go hand in hand. If left unhealed, grief can shipwreck a child’s faith.
So if a child’s spirit is broken by sorrow, how will we tend to it? Who will fix it? It is here that we will veer from conventional wisdom and methodology because we understand this to be a spiritual issue. Ultimately, examining grief does not heal grief. Jesus does.
· “He (Jesus) heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
When Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth, where he had grown up, He was handed the book of Isaiah to read. He found Isaiah 61 and started reading:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” . . . And when Jesus had sat down He said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-19, 21)
We are ambassadors of this good news right now--today. Jesus heals the grief-stricken, devastated, wretched, inconsolable, and heavy-hearted. This isn’t good news for the by and by. Broken-hearted children won’t need healing in heaven. They need it now.
So the short answer to this question of how to tend to a grieving child is this: Reveal Jesus to your sorrowful child. He is their source of healing. They need the kind of spiritual healing only He can provide. Kids are healed by pressing in to know our Healer. Our urgency should be to make the focus of their attention less inward, on self and emotions, and more upward, on Jesus and the hope we have in Him. As kids are tempted to turn away from God, we can help them turn back and seek God’s help.
The Word Heals Broken Spirits
Since Jesus heals the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3), and Jesus is the Word (John 1:1), the Word heals the brokenhearted.
· Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63)
In Scripture, we have God-breathed, Spirit-filled words that are able to heal broken spirits and bring kids back to life.
· Paul says that the Word of God’s grace is, “able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
· Romans 10:17 states, “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
Just in these few verses, we see the Word gives life, it divinely influences our hearts so that we are built up and given an inheritance, and it increases faith. We could go on and on, verse upon verse, proving the wondrous ability of God’s Word to heal and set us free. The Word is the spiritual remedy for the spiritual problem of broken-heartedness. It must be read to our children and repeated so often that it is lodged in their hearts.
One of the reasons we do not use the Word as medicine to heal our sorrowful children is that we think it’s beyond their ability to understand. But this is reasoning in the natural, not the supernatural. God’s Words are supernatural; they are spirit. They are truth. They tell the truth about who God is, and who we are in Him. Even an infant is edified by God’s Word spoken over him.
In order to counteract the trauma of childhood loss, which often leads to bitterness, depression, anxiety, delinquency, and most of all faith-less-ness, we must lead bereaved kids to Jesus, the Word, their Healer.