How to talk about evil with preschoolers
Recently I purchased a really great resource for kids about God’s perfect design for boys and girls called God’s Design, part of the Making Him Known series. I’ve been reading the passages and discussing God’s design with my kindergartner, Gideon. Last night’s passage was about how sin entered the world.
As I was reading about how the Devil tricked Adam and Eve, Gideon sat up and asked, “Mommy, what is that bad guy’s name?” I said, “The Bible calls him the Devil. The Devil does not love God, and because the Devil does not love God, he does not love people. He wanted to mess up God’s beautiful plan. But God is more powerful than the Devil. There is no one like God.”
Gideon, with a catch in his voice, replied, “Adam and Eve need to call the police, and the police will destroy the bad guy.” I could tell that my boy, who always wants the bad guys to face justice and the good guys to prevail, was really internalizing this story. So I took a step back and talked with Gideon about where his fear was coming from.
Then I got to share once again with Gideon the good news. Even though the Devil is cunning and evil, God’s plan to send Jesus to rescue us from sin was decided between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit before they ever made the ground that sneaky old snake slithered on. The crucifixion and resurrection wasn’t a “back-up” plan. It was THE plan—crafted by an all-knowing and all-powerful God.
God’s sovereignty and His power over evil is a heavy concept for preschoolers, but it is crucial. Lay these foundations early in the lives of the preschoolers you teach:
- God is good, and He does good things. (Psalm 119:68) God cannot do what is evil. Righteousness and holiness are quintessential truths of God’s very nature. When bad things happen, such as natural disasters or sudden tragedies, remind preschoolers that God did not make the earth to decay or people to get sick, but sin brought sickness and death to people and decay and destruction to God’s world. God is still in control, and one day Jesus will return to make everything new.
- God has a purpose for everything He has made, and nothing can stop His plans. And that’s a good thing. Americans like me enjoy our independence. We don’t like Bible verses like Psalm 115:3; Psalm 135:6; or Daniel 4:35 that show that God does not have to consult us while He works out His plans for our lives. That’s why it is so important to teach preschoolers that God is good, we can trust Him, and we can rest in the knowledge that His plans work out for the good of those who love Him.
- God sees, hears, and knows everything that happens to us. Throughout the Bible, God tells His prophets that He has seen how people suffer injustice, violence, and oppression. Encourage your preschoolers that they never have to be afraid to bring their sorrow to God. If a preschooler you teach is going through something awful, acknowledge the awfulness of it. Then pray, knowing that the living God is seeing and hearing and leaning in close during that awful time.
- Point preschoolers to the gospel. You do not have to go into gory details about the crucifixion, but it is important to let preschoolers know that Jesus experienced suffering that He did not deserve so we could be saved from our sin. Jesus experienced physical and emotional pain, rejection from His friends and brothers, and even separation from God when He took our sin upon His shoulders. Whatever heartaches we face on earth, preschoolers can know that Jesus experienced those heartaches too. They can trust Jesus to understand and help them in their pain.
What are some ways your preschool ministry has helped the children you teach cope with evil and suffering? Please share in the comments below.
You may also check out these resources:
Helping Parents When Their Children Are Suffering
Teaching Kids to Pray
Rachel Myrick is the Babies and Toddlers Content Editor for The Gospel Project for Preschool. She has taught babies and toddlers (her peeps) for over 16 years. Rachel and her husband, Shaun, live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with their 5-year-old son, Gideon.