Her question shook me. The child’s mom called to get an idea of how to answer this question. “How do I answer a question like that!” the mom pleaded. She was looking to me for an answer!
“Well, honestly,” I began, “we all are going to die unless the Lord comes first. Why do you think she’s wondering about that right now?” I needed to know why a six-year-old was worried about death.
“I think it’s because of the news on TV about all the dying and concerns. COVID-19 is all that is on TV!” I could hear the frustration in the young mother’s voice.
“How long is the TV news on for her to hear?” I asked. I wondered if that could be the source of the child’s concern. Also what a child feels is often a reflection of how parents are coping. Since you have to face facts, it was possible the parents felt on “the edge of the knife” regarding the virus.
She admitted, “My husband is working from home, and when he’s not working, he’s listening to the news constantly.”
“Have you talked with him about how this might be affecting your daughter?”
“Well, I haven’t told him about her asking me if we’re all going to die.”
“That might be an important conversation you could have after she’s asleep. And it might be better to watch the news after she’s asleep, too.”
“I’ve thought about that. But where do I start in answering her question? She’s out in the back yard right now, but she’ll ask me again before the day’s over.” I could hear the apprehension in her voice.
I ventured, “Well, children tend to absorb the emotions of the adults around them, so let’s start there. Would you say you’re feeling a little scared yourself?”
“I know the chances are good that we won’t get the virus if we’re really careful. I’m mostly worried about her catching it or my parents getting sick.”
“Concern is absolutely justified regarding COVID-19. And at my age, I’ve had my share of shaky moments. But then I remind myself of God’s truths. I can tell you about a time when my own children were concerned about us all dying when the Mt. Saint Helens volcano exploded back in May of 1980. I know now what I wish I’d told them at the time.” I laughed. “Hindsight is always 20-20.”
“I’m up for anything,” she sighed.
“Well, for weeks, the news had been warning us of an imminent explosion on Mt. St. Helens. We were in Beaverton, Oregon, only 60 miles away from the mountain. Naturally, we pretty much downplayed the whole situation. Then that Sunday, May 18, we walked out of the church building after worship, and there it was! A mushroom cloud that looked like we could just drive up the road and touch it! The news said the ash was heading our way! It was dangerous to breathe. It could destroy our car engines, stop up our air conditioners, cover everything with grayish-white, never-melting flakes. Nobody knew what to expect.”
“Wow, I’d never thought how scary that could have been. How old were your kids?”
“Our oldest was finishing 2nd grade, and our youngest was in kindergarten. I think I know how you are feeling. Our youngest was the questioner. When he saw the northern lights one night, he asked if Jesus was coming!” We both laughed. “So naturally, he was the one to ask if we were all going to die.”
“What did you say?” she asked.
“I have to admit that I don’t remember, but I know what I’d say now.” Then, as if changing the subject, I continued. “Do she, by any chance, enjoy cooking with you?”
“Oh, she loves it!”
“Okay. Do you have a package of crescent rolls and some large marshmallows?”
“What? I think so, but I don’t understand.”
“Oh, there’s nothing better than an object lesson. You’ll see what I’m getting at.” I had her attention. “Roll the marshmallows in melted butter, then cinnamon sugar. Then wrap them in the crescent rolls, sealing them tightly. As you do so, remind her that God makes us in two parts1: Our bodies (the dough) and our souls (the marshmallow). I usually call our souls our “selves.” Kids seem to comprehend and accept that their thoughts and feelings are different from their arms and legs. Then explain to her that when our bodies die, our selves—souls—don’t. Our ‘selves’ go to be with God, and our bodies stay on the earth for now. Then put the rolls in the 350-degree oven and watch them until they are brown, 10-12 minutes. When you take them out, let them cool for about 20 minutes. When you open them, the marshmallow will have disappeared—much like our souls do when we die. Our bodies are left on earth until Jesus comes back to put us back together again—only with new bodies that will never die again. Then we’ll all go live with Him in His new heaven and new earth forever.”2
“What a nice way to explain it! So you’re saying to help her not be so afraid of dying.”
“Yes. But also tell your daughter what you told me. That most people don’t get sick if they are careful. And if someone does get sick, they usually get well. But no matter what happens, we’ll all end up together with God anyway. But for now, let’s eat dessert!”
“Oh, that sounds great! Thanks! I’ll save you some of that recipe.”
“Oh, that’s not my recipe. They’re called ‘Resurrection Rolls.’ I read about them on Facebook the other day. But have fun!! Let me know how it turns out.”
After I hung up, I thanked God for that Facebook post coming across my feed just at the right time!
1Matthew 10:28; 2 I Thessalonians 4:13-18
Parents, “Resurrection Rolls” are perfect for teaching the story of Jesus’ resurrection as well. You can find the recipe and the story if you go here: