“Cassie,” Dad called, “will you please see if the morning newspaper is here yet?”
Cassie walked slowly 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 football game on the front page.”
She opened the door and glanced at the paper resting on the porch. “War Escalates” shouted the big, black headline. She quickly rolled up the paper with the headline out of sight and ran to give it to Dad.
That morning was the time for Cassie’s class to talk about current events. All of the students brought newspaper articles to share. Jason brought the story about the war. Miranda brought an article about a hurricane. Cassie’s clipping was about a dog who could water-ski. Cassie’s teacher reminded her that a story about a dog was not exactly a current event, but Cassie didn’t care. The entire current events bulletin board was covered with stories about wars, disasters, and crime. Cassie pinned her cute picture of the dog where she could see it easily.
Cassie was glad to get home after school. She did her homework and helped Mom with the dinner dishes. Dad invited her to tell him about her day while he watched the news on television. Just as she started telling her dad about the funny article she had taken for current events, the television 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 sick. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
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?” Mom asked.
“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 to the floor. She stared 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 He 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,” said Cassie. “Satan wanted to make everyone choose the right 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.”
“Yes—Heavenly Father knew it was better to let us choose to follow His commandments, even though He knew some of us would choose to disobey and 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 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. “Oh, 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 trials for us to face.”
Cassie began to cry again. “I can’t stand it, Mom. Everywhere I look people are sad. 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 overwhelming. Did you know Heavenly Father saved you to come to earth now? You were strong in the premortal existence, and you had just the qualities 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 11-year-old. But I have several ideas I think will help you. First, when you say your prayers, ask for peace to come to your heart. The Holy Ghost is a comforter, and He can help you feel better. He can’t take away the bad things that happen, but He can make it easier for you to deal with such problems. Second, perhaps you could ask Dad for a father’s blessing.”
Cassie remembered how much better she had felt after her father’s blessing just before school started. “That’s a good idea. I always feel better after a blessing.”
“Me, too,” Mom said. “Another thing 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, we can still find joy. You can enjoy looking at 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 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 week Cassie tried hard to do as her mother had suggested. She did feel better after her father’s blessing, and she tried hard to enjoy every day.
A few days later, when she walked into her bedroom after school, she noticed something new. There on the wall, right where she would see it first thing every morning, was an embroidered picture. There were birds and flowers and butterflies on it, and right in the middle were the words of the Savior found 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.”