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How to Talk to Children About the Coronavirus

This article was written by Cameron Cole and was originally posted here.


The coronavirus has created a tremendous amount of fear and affliction for thousands around the world. Given the pervasive messaging about it affecting every area of life, children certainly can and are internalizing fear.

While we never want to think in terms of “capitalizing” on others’ suffering, crises like this provide valuable opportunities for meaningful conversations with our kids.

Yesterday, I talked to a first-grader about it. Here are the three questions I asked her along with some of the messages I communicated to her.

1. Why do Christians not have to fear death?

Most people suppress or ignore the inevitable reality of death. The coronavirus has raised this question in an undeniable way for us all. I wanted to talk to the child about the comfort and hope believers have in the face of death.

Christians are the people who taunt death with the cry, “Oh, death, where is your sting? Oh, death, where is your victory?”

We talked about how Jesus came to save us from our sins and to deliver us from death. Death for the believer is gain as we go to live in glory with Christ and are freed from sufferings in this life. Yes, we have trepidation about the process of dying (that is miserable), but in terms of final outcome, we have no fear because of Christ’s victory at Calvary.

I wanted the Christian’s hope in death to be the first thing we discussed.

2. Why should Christians still be responsible, safe, and wise about the coronavirus?

While we have no fear in death, we also don’t act like fools. We don’t take unwise risks, and we heed the advice of credible authorities. Why? The first-grader and I talked about how our lives are a gift from God. Our Lord calls us to be faithful stewards of this life for his glory.

Part of being a good steward involves protecting our bodies and monitoring our health. We want to treat our lives and the lives of others as sacred, since we’re all made in the image of God.

Given this important stewardship, we should follow the commonsense practices that healthcare authorities have delivered—washing hands, avoiding handshakes, staying inside if we demonstrate symptoms. In doing so, we’re not only being good stewards of our own lives, we’re also protecting and honoring the dignity of others.

3. Why can Christians live in this dangerous world without fear?

Some have died at the hands of this virus. It has made others incredibly sick. Many have been blessed to avoid it altogether, but they’re plagued with fear.

One of the Bible’s most comforting phrases is “Do not fear.” Why does the Christian have freedom to reject fear and live in peace? As this girl said, because “God is in control of everything.” Much of the fear arising from this international crisis emanates from the perception that God has lost control of the world.

In reality, Christ has ascended to his throne in heaven, where he rules over all. In our conversation I assured this child that God remains in control of every single thing in his universe. His goodness constitutes an equally important aspect of our comfort. Not only does God hold all things under his sovereign control, but he also governs all things in accord with his pure and perfect character. Knowing that he is both good and also sovereign means we can live in peace.

Whether through the closing of their school or information they’ve heard in the media, your child will learn of the coronavirus’s dangers. Proactively point them to the Lord’s good and gracious character, along with the gospel’s sweet and sure promises, and you will comfort them amid this present crisis. And it can prepare them for life’s afflictions down the road.

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