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Tragedies - Where is God?

This assembly attempts to help children to think through difficult questions about suffering.

by Gordon Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 2


This assembly attempts to help children to think through difficult questions about suffering.

Preparation and materials

Note: This assembly will not be suitable for all children as it asks some deep theological questions!


  1. Introduce the theme by saying that when tragedies occur they lead us to question how a loving God, such as Christians and other religions believe in, can allow them to happen. We might think things like: how can God love us if he allows thousands to die because of a tsunami, or innocent children to be killed in a school siege, or someone we love to die of a disease.
  2. Say that you're going to give some of the different answers that people have found to this difficult question but nothing can be said for certain and in the end everyone has to find their own answers.

    When we're troubled or worried by 'big questions' it can help to hear what others have to say, maybe their thoughts can help us. Go on to give the following responses to the question - why does God allow suffering.

    Some people say that the question proves that there is no loving God. If there was a loving God there would be no suffering in the world and the fact that there is suffering tells us that there is no God.

    Some people say that God knows best and even though we can't understand suffering we just have to trust that God only allows it because it is for the best. These people say that our view of right and wrong, good and bad is limited because we only see a tiny part of creation - God sees it all and God knows best.

    Optional example: we feel sad when people die but that there wouldn't be room for us on the planet if we all lived for ever and when people die, many faiths teach that they go to a different, better stage of life.

    Some people say that we just have to accept that this is how the universe is. God has made for us a physical universe with things we can touch, see and smell. It's a world where we can know the joy of running and jumping, of eating and drinking. But if you live in a physical world you have to accept that things can go physically wrong, bones can break, the natural forces that made our world will sometimes act against us (such as in earthquakes), the sun which gives us life can damage us if we get too much of it; and so on.

    Some people say that we don't find God in what happens to us, but in how we react when bad things occur. Christians say that Jesus took the worst that the world could throw at him (crucifixion) and overcame it (resurrection) and that this shows us that we can overcome anything with God's help. For these people the question is not about suffering but about love; how we live in such a difficult world.

    Other people say you can't answer these big questions but you can do practical things to help other people and this is what really matters.
  3. There's a lot of hard thinking there - what do you think?

Time for reflection

The world is full of horror

I say there is no God

If there was, then the horror would stop.

The world is full of suffering

I say God alone knows why

I'll put my trust in God

The world is full of danger

I say that's just how it is

What matters is how we live

All that matters is how we live

With God's help, how we live.

Publication date: January 2005   (Vol.7 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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