“Mommy, is God mean some times?” This question was asked by my three-year-old tonight as she helped me prepare supper.
“No, Honey, He’s never mean. But He is just.”
“What does ‘just’ mean?”
“Well, it means that He can’t allow us to get away with sin, so we have to be punished when we do wrong. But He loves us soooo much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to take the punishment for us!”
It’s these philosophical conversations with my young daughter that make me want to dive more into God’s Word and find the answers for myself! After all, the Bible admonishes us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (I Pt. 3:15). It occurred to me tonight that this admonishment included my children – especially my children! – as well.
I am pretty sure the reason she asked me this question was because she was busy learning her Kids4Truth verse for tonight – “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works (Ps. 145:17). She was really struggling to learn this one, too. She kept wanting to say that “the Lord is righteous and loving” (part of a verse she learned a few weeks ago!). I love how her mind works, though, to wonder if the Lord is ever mean to us. Isn’t that how we sometimes feel, too – even as adults? When things aren’t going our way, don’t we secretly say to ourselves that “God is mean”? Of course, we know that the truth is that God is just, and we don’t deserve the mercy He gives us every day!
Hannah, of course, was happy with the answer I gave her and finished happily helping me fix supper. But it made me start to wonder just how much I know about my Lord and Savior. Am I always ready to give an answer? Hannah is already starting to ask some hard questions – “How can God be two people? Why can’t I see God? If God is everywhere, why would He want to live in my nose? If Jesus lives in my heart, how can He live in your heart, too?”
Thankfully, I have a father and uncle who are Bible scholars, so they can help me answer the really “philosophical” questions of a three-year-old inquisitor. But that doesn’t get me off the hook! Instead, my daughter challenges me to find the answers for myself, so I can give an answer for what I believe. In fact, she often asks me questions that had never even occurred to me!
I have a friend who basically turned her back on her parents’ faith because they could never really answer her questions about God. If they didn’t know, then how could she? It’s so easy to say all the “right things” that are typical answers in many Christian circles! But if we parents don’t really know why we believe in our blessed Redeemer, then how can our children ever desire that relationship with Him as well? If our faith is superficial, then theirs will be, too, or else they’ll walk away from God altogether.
Children are often referred to as “little sponges.” They absorb everything we say, do, believe, think. They often mimic the adults who raise them. I am amazed (and often humbled) when I see Hannah reacting (or responding, for all my Bible Study friends!) to situations in the exact way that I would. In fact, it is often a reminder to me to handle these situations better the next time around!
So rather than making up something just to pacify my little girl, I often have to admit that I don’t know the answer, but I will find out for her. Admitting that we don’t know the answer to every question is a good first step, but the best way we can help our children grow in their relationship with Christ is to find the answers with them. Have you prepared your answers yet?