My nine-year-old daughter asked me how far away Boston is from us when I was tucking her into bed tonight.
She wondered if the bad guy was close enough to come here, and if she was safe.
After I explained to her where Boston is (a good 14+ hour drive from here), she quite seriously inquired why people did such bad things, and if this man in Boston was going to do anything else that was so evil.
I had just read that the 2nd bombing suspect in Boston had been captured by the Boston Police Department, so I shared that news with her. She smiled, and said that she was glad they caught him, and that he should go to jail for a very long time.
What came next, I had not imagined ever having to discuss at bedtime with my daughter, especially at the young age of nine.
"Mommy, why do people do such bad, evil things?"
"The devil is VERY good at tricking people into thinking that bad things are actually good for them. God gave us Free Will, and people sometimes choose the evil way, for various reasons. Usually they have been tricked by the devil, because he is really good at tricking us."
She wondered how Satan does that, of course, and asks for examples.
Let's imagine the men in Boston always wanted to be famous. They wanted everyone to know who they were, and to know their names. So, the devil told them he could make them famous!! All they had to do was set a couple of bombs, and everyone in the world would know who they are!
My daughter gasped, "But to be known for something so bad! That's just wrong!"
Yes, it is wrong. But, maybe they did not want to be famous. Maybe there was something else that the devil fed upon in their lives to convince them that this was the best thing for them to do. He's good at it. That's been Satan's job for as long as he's been in contact with humans. Trickery. Deceit. Pure Evil.
My daughter wanted to know who else had been tricked by the devil, and what they had done, and why.
Well, to explain all of that I could think of so many examples from history, but not many appropriate enough to share with my young, sweet daughter!
We had just visited the Indianapolis Children's Museum during Spring Break, and there was an exhibit about Anne Frank. We had read a bit about her there at the museum, but since third graders have not learned about Hitler or the Nazi movement, I did not go into much detail with her about the circumstances surrounding Anne Frank's story.
I did tell her that Anne Frank lived through a terrible time, and helped other people to survive as well. I had visited the Anne Frank house/museum in Amsterdam while visiting in college, and my kids were excited to hear that I had actually been there.
But I digress.
She wanted to know about the evil that Anne was able to survive.
I described for her the devil's work through Hitler, as he convinced an entire continent of people that anyone who was Jewish did not deserve to live. She wanted to know details of how he killed people. I described a bit about the army that Hitler created, and the searches throughout the cities of Europe, where they ripped families apart and put them on trains going in different directions to live in camps with no food or water. Many kids never saw their parents again, and many, many people died.
Just thinking of this made my daughter tear up and almost begin to cry.
I told her that Hitler was one of the most evil people in history, and that he caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. And he chose to do it. He truly believed, somehow, that he was right. The devil is VERY good at tricking people into believing that evil is not wrong.
I then described Schindler's role in the rescuing of so very many Jews during Hitler's reign. She was thrilled to hear that there were still GOOD people, doing God's work when so much evil was present.
I had to remind her that evil will ALWAYS be present in our world. There will always be weak people, who are easily tricked by the devil, into believing that evil is going to make them into better people.
"But God is Bigger!" was my daughter's response!
We can protect ourselves by believing firmly that God is Good, and protecting our hearts against the evil by keeping God in our hearts. We pray, and we believe that God is our Creator and Protector. He will NEVER let us go.
Our closing prayer as my daughter started to drift off to sleep was this:
Please protect our hearts from evil. Keep us protected by your angels, and keep your promise in our hearts. We ask forgiveness for the times we have sinned, and pray that we will NEVER sin so gravely against You with such evil as we have seen today. We thank You for Your Forgiveness and Grace. Please help us to choose Your will and goodness as we seek Your way. Amen
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over" (Psalm 23:5).