Why we have to talk to our kids about Las Vegas

My older boys get most of their news and information from Instagram and the school bus. It is simply the way life is these days. If they begin a sentence with, “Hey mom did you know that …” I brace myself for the barrage of jumbled news that is about to come out of their mouths. Or the random sports fact. It is usually one or the other.

They hear so many things. They know so many things. And what they don’t know? They Google. It makes my head spin trying to keep up and sort out all that this world throws at them. And this week? Well to be honest I have had the urge to hide them away.

I have wanted to tell them it is all fake. No, a man would never take a gun and stand atop a building over a crowd of innocent concert- goers and fire at them. No, he would not knowingly take 59 lives, send over 500 people to the hospital with terrifying injuries and fill the hearts and minds of thousands with haunting sounds of gunshots and screams. No. A person created in the image of God would not ever do that.

And yet.

These boys of mine come banging through the front door with questions, with so much information they cannot even process it.  Why? How? Is it real? And I falter in the face of it all. Because here’s the thing. There are ways that the newsreels and the talking heads sitting safely behind their anchor desks are blaring about how we should be dealing with this tragedy. There are smart people saying things, articles being written, Congressmen talking and hashtags being shared. But as the door bangs shut in the late afternoon sun and the backpacks are dropped at my feet, the only thing that matters is what comes out of my mouth next. 

What happened, Mom? Why?

And nothing in me wants to talk about this evil. Nothing.

You see, evil can be loud and evident in our world. It can blow up buildings, shoot out nightclubs, and gun down innocent people. It can take over our daily news cycles and leave us running for the cover of our safe cul de sacs. But the worst thing that it does is make us quiet. It convinces us to look the other way; to refuse to see. 

I cannot change what happened. I cannot heal the world of all the evil that is present and active. I cannot calm the chaos. I cannot make it all better. But I serve a God who can. He is the answer.

And I desperately want to teach my boys how to take their lights into the darkness. I want them to know that God so loved the world. That we love because he first loved us. I want to build them into weapons that fight hate with God’s love.  But here’s what I am slowly learning. They can’t go into a darkness they don’t know exists. These boys and their questions that seem to have no good answers remind me that I have a job to do.

You see, despite what the commentators rant on about, our battle is not against flesh and blood. It is against rulers and principalities we cannot see. It is against this present darkness. And that sounds a bit weird, I get it. My kids’ eyes sorta glaze over when I start talking like this. Yours too, maybe.

But here’s what I am learning.

There is no place so dark that Jesus can’t bring light. There is no battle so fierce that God cannot win.

We can look the darkness straight in the face. We don’t have to pretend that all is well in this world. As our kids get older and are able to handle it, we can even show it bit by bit to them. In fact, as much as I don’t like to do this, I am learning that I must show my kids the darkness.

And so. As snacks are munched and homework unpacked, I lay it all out on the table. We talk of the man and the gun and the people who died. We talk about the helpers and the heroes. I stumble. I say the wrong things. I shrink back when I see the fear in their eyes. But I keep going. In the safety of our little suburban house, we look the evil right in the face.

And then I turn them around.

You see, this is what their phones, their buddies, and the newsreels won’t do. I turn them back toward Jesus, the words of the Old Testament prophets ringing in my ears. “Seek the Lord and live.” (Amos 5:4).

This is why we must talk about Las Vegas, about Orlando, about Sandy Hook, about Charleston, about Chattanooga, about all of it. The world is broken; so very broken. But the Bible holds a promise. A promise of “A new heaven and a new earth…the dwelling of God {will be} among men and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God, himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:1-3). We look at the broken, and we walk into it with our light because this is what we know to be true.

May God continue to hold tightly to all of those affected by this tragedy, may he steady their hearts and minds and wipe away their tears. And may he build us into a people who don’t shrink back from facing the darkness, but who know that, in the words of my 8-year-old, “God loves people. God made people and He is bigger than all the bad guys. He will win.” And may God have mercy on us all.

“In all these things we are more than conquerors, through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37).


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