Explain suffering to children

Greetings all

With the current Covid-19 pandemic, many families are under lock down and children are asking lots of questions about God, science etc. This presents an opportunity to teach and evangelise to our children. What is the best way to answer their questions around suffering in the present context? (How to present the topic: Why suffering to children)


Why do we suffer?
The answer is that 99% of the time man is responsible for his own woes.
Action -> consequences -> taking personal responsibility.

Teaching kids to guard their hearts.
Suffering happens when something is out of balance: pride, jealousy, spite, anger…all the afflictions of the human heart that are acted out and plague our minds.
Fruits of the Spirit / renewing our minds / forgiveness.

Teaching kids they can’t control everything, but they can control what they have control over.
Suffering is a state of mind.
Viktor Frankl’s book ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’ describes how people died in concentration camps when they gave up hope; when their life no longer had meaning.
The Bible teaches there is meaning, it teaches perseverance, hope.

But in the absence of suffering your kids will never know, learn, adapt, evolve and strengthen their faith or develop their character.

God blessed us with sound minds that can be exercised.

  • Role-modelling:
    Look at how Mandela reacted to his situation as he sat in Jail for 27 years, digging up limestone.
    Jesus while people were spitting in his face, pulling his hair out, mocking him, jeering him, punching him in the face.
    Paul as he sat beaten in jail (He praised and gave thanks, learned to live with and without Phil 4:11-13 is a favourite verse for me).
    Ghandi and many, many more I’m sure they can choose from.

  • Doing
    Through competitive sports (particularly solo sports like tennis, cycling, triathlon, running)
    There is no team mate to pick up the slack in solo sports.
    It’s just you and your thoughts (which will always be your biggest adversary).
    Look at how Nadal, Federer, Djokovic behave mentally under pressure; it’s what separates them from the rest.
    And how they behave in defeat (I’ve certainly never seen Nadal break his racquet in frustration).

In the absence of suffering, your kids will never learn who they really are.
If you look at it, God’s design for spiritual and mental growth is amazingly perfect.
We need suffering to be made more and more in the image of Christ.

Maybe they are too young to talk about generational sin, doorways that open us to torment, and God’s legal system that the Accuser uses to bring pain and suffering on God’s people; for another (non-corona) rainy day perhaps.

God bless.


@dionkandima Great question :slight_smile: Personally, I would walk a child through the whole narrative of Scripture and spend some time soaking in God’s Word. I think that really is the richest, most beautiful answer - to let that whole narrative soak into the heart through prayer and worship and the Word.

I’ve also included a more philosophical approach from Cold Case Christianity below. Whatever we do, I think we are honest about the fact that life is hard in many ways, but that we can rejoice even in the midst of our struggles because of the love of our God and the victory He has won on the cross.

Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

  • God created the world as a beautiful place without evil, but because of sin that beautiful world was broken and death came into the world (read Genesis 1-3)
  • God loved us enough to come into this broken world and suffer with/for us - Jesus is proof of God’s love for us in this broken world
  • sin and death don’t get the last word - the story has a happy ending (John 11 - resurrection of Lazarus / 1 Cor 15:42-48)
  • Jesus overcame evil and death on the cross - no evil can separate us from His love (read Romans 8:31-39) - we are more than conquerors
  • God is our Good Shepherd in this world - just like David trusts God in Psalms 23, we trust God to guide us home through all the hard things in life

Cold Case Article

  • eternity can help us cope with evil
  • God loves us enough to allow us free agency
  • some suffering can develop our character
  • God can use some evil to call us to Himself
  • some evil is hard to explain because we aren’t God
  • true evil requires God as a standard for righteousness
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I’d keep it simple: When the first man disobeyed God, everything broke. Not just man, but the whole world. Since then, things don’t work the way God made them to work. People and animals get sick and die. People hurt each other, and nature hurts us and we hurt nature.

It’s not supposed to be this way, and by following Jesus’ teachings we can make it better. And one day, Jesus will come back and make it like it was before man disobeyed Him, and there will be no sickness or death or hurting anymore. We should pray for that time to come soon, and in the meantime, we love as much as we can to make the sickness and dying and hurting better.

A lot of people right now are working very hard to show others their love: The doctors and nurses, the grocery store workers and delivery people, the people in factories and warehouses—everyone who keeps us healthy, fed, and safe. We should make their lives better, too, by showing them our love in return.

Maybe you can draw a happy picture for the postman to thank him for his hard work? And wish him the best of health?

@dionkandima In his sermon “Truth for Troubled Times”, Pastor McCoy uses an illustration that I think would be great for kids. He shares a time when he was afraid as a kid and his mom came into the room and said, “I am with you, the light is on, you do not need to be afraid any more”. God is with us, the light is on, and we do not need to be afraid any more.

Think it’s great for a kiddo.


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