We mourn with those who have lost loved ones from the devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.
With us on the phone is Dr. Bill Maier from Dr. Bill Maier Live. Dr. Maier, how do we process such a devastating tornado in a populated area?
Over the past year there have been so many tragedies it seems overwhelming. It almost has a cumulative effect. We can at times just want to throw up our hands in despair with the violence, destruction, and death. It’s just so painful.
I think what we need to do is to say I don’t understand this, yet I know that we have a loving heavenly Father who is in control and we don’t understand why these things occur except for the fact that we know we live in a world that is fallen. And ever since the fall bad things have happened to good people and there have been those who make others suffer and there are natural disasters and tragedies because of this world being skewed by sin. That’s about the only way we can wrap our minds around this. And then to know that our heavenly Father loves us dearly and promises us to know that even though there is pain and suffering and yes even death in this world that a day will come when there are no more tears, no more sorrow, no more death, the grave will be conquered once and for all. Those of us who have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ will be in eternity with Him forever. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m praying for these people in Oklahoma. I’m praying that God will comfort them. Families that have lost loved ones or are injured. I think we also need to pray for the first responders. This is extremely difficult for them. They are brave men and women who put their lives on the line for us in our grief and sorrow.
Dr. Maier, how can we help our kids out by limiting what they see and hear in the news and why is that helpful?
I think in the next 24-48 hours we have to be very careful as to the media coverage we allow our kids to see. The images t on TV are powerful. Young children do not have the ability to abstract. They might think this is in their neighborhood, in their town, at their school. So I would really caution parents and encourage you to limit your media coverage to radio or internet. Or watch TV after the kids are in bed.
What if our younger children have already seen images of devastation?
In that case, they may have questions and we need to be willing to listen even though some of their questions may be hard. Encourage them to share by asking open ended questions.
What are some ways we can encourage our children when tragedy hits?
Help them learn that prayer is something we can do anytime and anywhere. Say “Father I don’t understand what is going on. I’m very sad. I’m hurting for this people. Please help them and help me not to be afraid. Please help me to know that I’m safe with my mom and dad. But I want to pray for these people who are hurting and are in grief.”
What are some ways we can reassure our kids when they are afraid?
It makes sense to logically explain that the risk is fairly low. By the same token we need to make sure to allow our kids to express their fears. The last thing we want to do is to tell your child “ oh don’t be afraid everything is going to be OK”. That’s in effect minimizing their emotions. Instead ask open ended questions and allow them to share how they feel. Then take time to pray about. With older children it’s also good to review Bible verses that remind us of God’s provision and care. It’s not only helpful for them to know those verse but those are good for us too.
Some of the damage included a school. What if our kids are afraid to go to school? Should we allow them to stay home?
I personally don’t recommend it because in effect we’re reinforcing their fear. In most schools the teachers will handle this very sensitively and proactively. Often times the principal will have a directive on how the school will handle the situation and questions that come up during class.