“Cassie,” her father called, “will you please see if the morning newspaper is here yet?”
Cassie got slowly off the couch and dragged her feet to the front door. She stopped a moment, closed her eyes, and whispered, “Please, please let there be a story about a circus or a baseball game on the front page.”
She opened the door and glanced at the paper resting on the doormat. “War Escalates” shouted the big, black headline. She quickly rolled up the paper with the headline on the inside and ran to give it to Dad.
That morning was current events day at school. Jason brought the front-page story about the war. Miranda brought an article about a hurricane in the Caribbean. Cassie’s clipping was about a dog who could water ski. Her teacher reminded her that a story about a dog was not important news, but she didn’t care. The entire current events bulletin board was covered with stories about wars, disasters, and crime. She pinned her cute picture of the dog where she could easily see it.
Cassie was glad to get home after school. She did her homework and helped Mom with the dinner dishes. Dad invited her to come sit beside him in the family room and tell about her day while he watched the news. She had just started talking about the funny article she had taken for current events, when the news showed pictures of children who had been hurt when a bomb exploded.
Cassie ran to her room and closed the door. She threw herself on the bed and covered her head with pillows. Her throat was tight, and her stomach felt like it did on the roller coaster at the fair. Tears rolled down her cheeks and onto her comforter.
After a long time, Cassie heard a soft knock on the door, “May I come in, Cassie?” her mother asked quietly.
“I guess so.” Cassie’s voice was muffled by her pillows.
“Honey, what’s wrong? Did you have a bad day at school?”
“Not exactly,” Cassie mumbled through the pillows.
“Would you like to talk about whatever is bothering you? I can come back later if you want to be alone for now.” Mom sat down on the edge of the bed.
Cassie rolled over onto her back, and the pillows slid onto the floor. She lay staring at the ceiling for a moment, then finally said, “Mom, does Heavenly Father love everyone the same?”
“Yes, He does.”
“Then why are there wars where people get hurt and die? Why are so many people in the world unhappy? If Heavenly Father loves us, why doesn’t He stop the fighting?”
Mom thought for a moment. “Those are good questions. Let’s see if we can find some answers. Do you remember a few months ago in family home evening when we talked about our life before we came to earth? We learned about an important meeting at which Heavenly Father presented His plan for us.”
“I remember. Satan wanted to make everyone choose the right way so we would all return to Heavenly Father.”
“That’s right,” Mom replied. “Why wasn’t his idea a good one?”
“Because we would lose the right to choose for ourselves.”
“That’s right—Heavenly Father knew that it was better to let us choose to follow His commandments, even though He knew that some of us would choose to disobey and that many would not be able to return to live with Him.
“He also knew that some people would choose to hurt other people, even good people and children. He knew that Satan would work very hard to get us to hurt each other, because Satan doesn’t want us to live with Heavenly Father again. He wants us to be unhappy, like he is.”
Cassie rolled onto her side and looked at her mother. She had an important question to ask, but she was afraid to hear the answer. “What if a war starts here? I’m afraid someone in our family will be hurt or killed.”
Mom gathered Cassie into her arms and rocked her gently. “Oh, honey, I wish I could promise you that nothing bad will ever happen to any of us. There may never be a war here in our town, but as the world turns more and more to wickedness, there will be more dangers and more trials that we will have to deal with as best we can.”
Cassie began to cry again. “I just can’t stand it, Mom. Everywhere I look there is sadness and pain. I wish I had been born some other time.”
“There has always been suffering in the world, Cassie, but I think I know how you feel—sometimes it’s a little bit overwhelming. But did you know that Heavenly Father saved you to come to earth now? You were strong in the premortal existence, and you had just the qualities that Heavenly Father knew you would need to be able to handle temptations and hardship.”
“Really?” Cassie thought for a moment. “Then why am I so afraid?”
“Because the world is a scary place for an eleven-year-old. I have several ideas that I think will help you, though. First, when you say your prayers every day, ask for peace to come to your heart. The Holy Ghost is a comforter, and He can make you feel better. He can’t take away the wars and fighting, but He can make it easier for you to deal with such problems. Second, I think you should ask Dad for a father’s blessing.”
Cassie remembered how she had felt better after her father’s blessing just before school started. “That’s a good idea. I always feel good after Dad blesses me.”
“Me, too,” said Mom. “Another thing that I think will help is to try to look for good things. Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. Even though we live in a wicked time when many things are happening that cause us pain, we can still find joy. You can enjoy a beautiful sunset, or playing with your brother and sister. Let Dad and me do some of your worrying for you, at least until you’re older.”
“OK,” Cassie sighed happily. “It’s a deal.”
“I know one other thing that I hope will help you, but it’s a surprise.”
“When will I find out what it is?” Cassie loved surprises.
“Give me a few days,” Mom answered, smiling mysteriously.
All that week Cassie tried hard to do as her mother had suggested. She did feel better after her father’s beautiful blessing, and she tried hard to enjoy every day. A few days later, she walked into her room after school, and there on her wall, hung where she would see it first thing every morning, was a beautiful cross-stitch picture in a large golden hoop. There were birds and flowers and butterflies on it, and right in the middle was the scripture in John 14:27—“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”