Like many of you I am heart broken over the tragic news of the Uvalde school shooting. My heart grieves for the families who have lost a precious innocent child. I can’t help but see these children in my minds eye and wonder what I would say to their parents. As the children’s pastor and ministering to the same age children whose lives were cut short because of the evilness in this world I want to offer some helps to our parents of Porter First. The following is an article I read today from Group Publishing Company that gives some great helpfully suggestions if your child ask you questions about the shooting.
Let’s remember these families in prayer as they begin to process the loss of their child.
Helping Children Process the School Shooting in Uvalde, Texas
Published: May 25, 2022 –Group Publishing
It’s happened again. How can we fathom news about another deadly school shooting? This time in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Precious children’s lives are lost. Families are mourning. We all grieve.
Especially as people who love and serve children, this news hurts. A lot. What can we do?
First, let’s grieve.
We mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). And so many are sad today. Together, let’s lift our teary eyes to Jesus.
Jesus knows what it’s like to cry. To suffer. To endure brokenness. So, friends, let’s pause and sit with the King of the universe and feel sad and mad and helpless and hopeless with him. It’s okay to just sit and grieve with Jesus. He is with us, grieving too.
Then, when we’re ready, let’s remember that Jesus gives us hope and that someday, sin and sadness will be gone forever.
In the wake of this tragic event, we want to help you as you help children and families process sadness and grief. We hope this free devotion for children and their families will encourage their hearts—and your heart, too.
Then, with Jesus’ help, let’s help kids process what has happened.
Several months ago, we shared how to help children process the conflict in Ukraine. For the most part, those same, simple tips apply to this domestic tragedy as well. Allow us to share them with you and the families you serve.
1. Let’s PREPARE.
We don’t need to be experts on the latest news, but we do need to be aware of what’s going on. That way, we’re able to stay calm and correct misinformation children may have heard.
2. Next, let’s ASK.
Ask simple questions to gauge children’s age-specific understanding of what’s going on. Open-ended questions help create space for children to share what’s on their minds, so you know how to help and comfort them. For example:
· What have you heard about what’s happening?
· Where have you heard these things?
· What questions do you have?
3. Then, let’s help and COMFORT.
There is much we don’t understand, and yet truth remains. Share those facts in simple, kid-friendly language. You don’t need to be an expert, just reassure children with truth about God and the situation at hand. For example:
· It’s true that people were hurt and children died.
· You are safe with me now.
· I am with you.
· God is with us.
· God is in charge.
The Bible offers help and comfort, too. So, let’s point children to truth from the Bible to help us navigate feelings, find peace, and pray for people in need. For example:
· “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7).
· “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).
· “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” (Romans 8:26-27).
4. Next, let’s PRAY.
Together, talk with God about it. For example, you could pray something like:
“Dear Jesus, we need you. Please bring peace to this scary time. Comfort people who are sad and scared today. Thank you for your presence with us right now and thank you that you are with people everywhere. In your name, amen.”
5. Finally, let’s PLAY.
Play? Yes, play. Play does not trivialize the situation or distract from what really matters. Rather, it gives children a much-needed way to de-stress and cope with difficult circumstances.
Pull out a board game. Go swing on the swing set. Kick a soccer ball around. You may find that kids want to talk some more as they continue to process feelings and information. Or you’ll find they’re ready to move onto other subjects and discoveries.
As you play, you’re showing kids that sadness and happiness sometimes exist together. You’ll find that smiles and joy are good for your heart, too.
Let’s help and comfort children when they need it the most.
Kids need help and comfort. Times of conflict and crisis affect children near and far in big and small ways. You can’t promise that nothing bad will ever happen, but you can point them to Jesus, the Rock they can depend on. Thank you for being Jesus’ hands and feet as you shepherd children through scary and difficult times like these.