I feel like God really blew it. (When our kids ask tough questions about the Bible.)

7 Jan

boys at ChristmasI sometimes read my children bible stories before they go to bed.  It is a time when distractions are gone and we can read together what God has done.  I love to share with them how God split the Red Sea and called a whale to swallow Jonah. 

However, there are so many stories in the Bible that are hard to understand for me, and even harder to explain to my children.  The other day I could not find our normal bible story book, so I grabbed a book about the Battle of Jericho, and jumped right in.  The book didn’t end with the wall falling down, and the people rejoicing at God’s victory, but with the Israelites killing everyone in the city.  It wasn’t really a happily-ever-after moment.  I closed the book, and inwardly prayed that my boys wouldn’t ask any questions, but I don’t think God liked my request.

My son Josiah (who is 9) immediately asked, “Dad, what about the kids?”  Wow of all the questions, he had to go for that one.  I swallowed hard, and tried to play dumb.  “What kids?”  I asked.

“The kids in the city.  Did the soldiers kill them too?”  At this moment, I wanted to lie.  I wanted to make up something about the people being infertile, or give him archaeological proof that Jericho was a retirement community, but I knew the truth.  Josiah didn’t wait for my answer.  “Dad, I feel like God really blew it.”

I waited for the lightning to strike, but luckily none came.  I stammered and stuttered.  I didn’t know what to say, and wondered what God was trying to say to me and my boys.

If you ever find yourself in this predicament.  Here are three responses (upon my greater reflection) when you don’t know what to say.

1.  I don’t know. 

If you don’t know the answer, say so.  Even after many years at seminary, there is much that I still don’t know about the Bible.  Tell your child that it is a great question, and that you don’t know the answer.  If it is something you can find out, then do it.  Your attention to their questions will show your kids that their questions about the Bible and faith are important.  Your study will also help them see the depth of the Bible, and may spark a desire to seek after truth by themselves.

 2.  I don’t understand. 

If you know the answer, but don’t like it.  You can say that you don’t understand.  There are many things that I don’t know about God.  Isaiah 55:8-9, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  It is okay for our children to know that we struggle with understanding God’s ways.  If they don’t know about our doubts, then they may be embarrassed when faced with their own doubts, and may not ask for help.

 3.  And it’s okay. 

Our children need to know that it is okay to ask questions, and not understand everything about the Bible.  It is okay because I live by faith.  I don’t believe the Bible because it makes perfect sense to me, but I believe it because it is the Living Word of God.  Hebrews 4:12 reveals that the Bible is “alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  I choose to believe and place my faith in God and His Word.  Even in the midst of our lack of knowledge and understanding, I can have faith that God is real, that God cares, and that God is near.

As a parent, there will be many times when I won’t know what to say, but I pray that God will use my inadequacies to bring Him glory.  I hope that my example of humility and faith will draw my children into a lifelong journey of faith.

Dr. G. David Boyd is a father and husband who seeks to lead his family into a greater understanding of God and His Word.  He hopes that his writing will encourage others to do the same.  For more of his writing go to www.earesources.org.

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