By Alan Bailey
We are hearing of so many calamities that it can be overwhelming. Almost daily we hear stories of disease, homelessness, war, famine, floods and other natural disasters. However, there is one thing that comes through very clearly; children are the greatest sufferers.
We don't need figures to be convinced of this. Just think of the way the young die through lack of food, medical attention and proper care in many third world countries, especially in times of crisis. Remember how thousands are turned out on the streets in Latin American countries, left to fend for themselves; defenceless mites in a cruel world. Millions more don't see the light of day in civilised USA or Australia for example. They are killed before they are born. Countless others are the victims of lifestyles or 'death-styles' of their mothers and fathers who do drugs or drink, giving their babies a horrible start in life with deformity and disease. The greatest victims of AIDS on the African continent, where AIDS is most wide-spread, are children.
It is also plain that in our educated Western societies we have many parents who have little understanding of how to raise a family. Too many abuse their offspring, injuring them physically and psychologically.
Sorry that this all sounds so sad and pathetic, but it is true. It's also true that there is a huge feeling of sympathy on the part of many for these innocent and dependent little people.
They have a special place
The oldest and most common question asked about all this is 'why does God allow it?' While a satisfying answer is hard to give, we must insist that God has not failed to address the need.
Think of this. When Jesus was asked who was the greatest in God's kingdom He called for a child and stood him in the middle. He said: "Whoever welcomes a little child like this welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. See that you do not look down on one of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels always see the face of my Father in heaven."
From these words it is not hard to see that God has a special place in His heart for children. The warning to anyone who stumbles or injures a child is grim indeed.
Something for all of us
We, too, should see children as precious. They ought to have protection from older people. They need a fair go at life without massive handicaps passed to them by adults. They need to be warned about the danger of wrong moral choices, of the power of evil in the world, and of the perils of peer pressure.
Children who receive nurture for body and mind are nevertheless neglected if their spirit is neglected. They need to go out in the world with a worldview and an understanding of who they are and why they are here. A parent doing the job with children will work and pray hard, endeavouring to pass on a reason for living. The only objective reason that stands up in the trials of life is that we are God's creations meant to live for His glory. The great news we have to share with our offspring is that God is love, that He is opposed to all evil and that He has in Christ done a mighty thing in opening a new way for us, which is life that never ends for those who trust in Him.