Do you ever feel like everywhere you turn, things are just broken?
Think about how many people are sick right now and living in unsafe environments without equal access to resources. Or consider the declining health of the many different ecosystems in the world God created for us.
It’s a lot. But what I really wrestle with is that God could work so many miracles and make all of it better—yet there’s still so much brokenness in the world. Then, I think about how I have to help my kids process the suffering they see and experience.
Have you ever felt like that and asked, “Do miracles happen?” Me too. But the answer is yes! Here’s how to recognize them and teach kids about them.
1. Find out what your kids think about miracles.
Help your kids think about what a miracle is. You can ask your kids what they wish they knew about miracles or suggest a definition of the word miracle, such as “an unusual or wonderful event caused by the power of God to bring glory to His name.” Ask your kids what they think about that definition and whether it lines up with what they already believe about miracles.
Sometimes kids confuse miracles with magic or fantasy. Help them discover what the difference is—miracles are real and worked by God for a good purpose, while magical fantasy stories are fiction and focused on entertainment. So, how can you help them tell the difference?
- Ask your kids to share how they think they can tell the difference between fantasy, fiction, magic, and miracles.
- Read about some miracles Jesus worked in the Bible (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are full of them!), or some that God worked through His people in the early church in the book of Acts.
- Talk about small miracles you’ve heard about or bigger ones you’ve read about and make a list, a chart, or a drawing if you and your kids like to get crafty.
2. Recognize that we live in a broken world.
When your kids have questions about the miracles they’ve asked God for, or why a good God would let bad things happen, don’t skirt the issue and pretend that everything works out great for everyone. Instead, be honest that God is powerful enough to work any miracle, and He is good, but suffering does still exist, even in the lives of people who are completely devoted to Jesus.
This pain point can be the beginning of a meaningful conversation. Share with your kids how we, as humans, sometimes define what is good and what is not in a way that doesn’t line up with God’s definition. Then, talk about what impact that might have on others or on nature.
Encourage your kids to share what they see as evil, unjust, unfair, or broken in the world and in their personal lives. Your younger kids may start with things like the death of a pet or a bully at school, while your older kids may bring up division in the media, people groups who feel like outcasts, or a struggle (their own or a friend’s) with anxiety and depression. By helping your kids embrace their questions, you show that they don’t have to hide them to be a “good” Christian—and you’ll unearth specific things you can pray about together as a family.
3. Find hope in the fact that God is in control, and He is with you.
When bad things are happening, God isn’t surprised. He’s not caught off guard. God is omniscient—He knows everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen, and how it affects everything else, but He is also omnipresent—He is with you right here, right now, and is available to walk alongside every other human who is overcome with suffering, too.
God, in the person of Jesus, knows what it feels like to suffer, and to have the weight of our brokenness and sin on His shoulders (see Hebrews 12:2). But He also knows the great hope that awaits us—we can be forever friends with God because of His sacrifice on the cross, and He will return, bringing with Him a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain (see Revelation 21:1-7).
So, how can you help your kids discover these truths?
- Talk with your kids about God’s plan to send Jesus to suffer and die for our sin so that we can be His friends.
- Ask your kids questions about God’s plan. Questions like: How does God’s plan show He is in control even when bad things are happening? What do you think about God’s plan to make heaven and earth new? What do you find hope in—and what do you still feel angry or frustrated over?
- Pray as a family to release your cares and worries to God. Ask Him to help you experience an increase of His supernatural peace and hope in your lives, regardless of how circumstances turn out.
4. Recognize the miracles God is doing every day.
We may wish that God just got rid of all the bad things with a snap of His fingers—but God is doing something far deeper. He is working miracles. Sometimes miracles happen in an instant, and it is incredible! Sometimes a bad thing we’ve prayed about is fixed immediately, like when someone is healed, or someone gets the very thing they need right when they need it.
There’s another kind of incredible miracle God is always working: God is taking all the bad things, no matter how evil they may seem, and He is working them together for the good of those who love Him (see Romans 8:28). These miracles may take more time, but nothing is too big for God to handle: He can use global pandemics, wars, hunger, unfair treatment of others, not having the things you need, bullying, sickness, broken friendships, broken families—the worst of the worst—and turn it into freedom, hope, peace, and people choosing to follow Jesus. That is a miracle that evil can never take away.
So, what are some ways you can build your confidence (and your family’s confidence) in miracles?
- Take time as a family to think about times in the past when bad things have happened in your family or to those you love—and how God worked good out of those times.
- If you can’t recognize anything miraculous yet, pray together to ask God to help you continue to trust Him for a miracle, and open your eyes to the miracles He is already working.
- Build your confidence in miracles by keeping a family prayer journal to write down what you’re asking God for and how He answers you. And, when you or someone in your family hears about a miracle in someone else’s life, write it down!
- Celebrate the everyday (but no less incredible) miracles of God’s presence living in us and flowing to others around us when we choose to trust in and follow Jesus. We can talk to God and He listens to us no matter where we are or when we reach out to Him!
God is trustworthy and good—and the way He is working everything together for good is bigger and stronger than any bad thing that we see happening. Keep your eyes open to miracles, and keep your conversations open by allowing your kids to voice their worries, frustrations, and struggles, while also focusing on hope, healing, and faith in God’s miraculous power.