5 Things to Remember When Your Children Ask Tough Questions

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5 Things to Remember When Your Children Ask Tough Questions

As Christian parents, we have two choices when our children come to us with questions about God, the Bible, and spiritual matters in general: we can dispense a bandaid (quick Sunday School answer) and pray that suffices, or we can grab our toolbox (Bibles) and get to work!

I recently read that the average American spends about an hour a day in the car. For mothers of school-aged children, the amount doubled. And in some cases, the amount of time tripled, which led me to question if I was making the most of "car time" with my children. Answer: not often enough, so thinking that this time together would foster Scripture memory and elicit exciting conversation about the Bible, we began listening to the Bible during our commutes.

All was going well, until ... 

One day my daughter hit me with some deep theological questions: "Why did God create humans if He knew they would sin?" and "Why do bad things happen if God is in control of everything?" "If God loves people, why do some people go to Hell?" Okay, I get it; I have a lot of questions, too. There are numerous things in the Bible that I can't wrap my head around and struggle to accept by mere faith.

As Christian parents, we have two choices when our children come to us with questions about God, the Bible, and spiritual matters in general: we can dispense a bandaid (quick Sunday School answer) and pray that suffices, or we can grab our toolbox (Bibles) and get to work!

First, Pray

Yes, this is the quintessential church response. But, it truly is the most crucial step for a multitude of reasons. Before I engage in any conversation about the Bible, I pray. Aloud. It is simple, but typically goes something like this: "Lord, give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Open our eyes, ears, and our hearts so we will come to know you better and understand your will for our lives" (Ephesians 1:17-18).

It is not wrong to seek, debate, or wrestle with complex doctrines, difficult passages or different interpretations of Scripture. Submitting first to prayer humbles us before the Lord. It is a spiritual discipline that protects our hearts from arrogantly thinking that we can "figure out God" independent of the Holy Spirit. The object is not to dissect God but to rightly understand who He is and His purpose for His creation.

Second, Remember God's Character

In A.W. Tozer's book, Knowledge of the Holy, he writes, "We must break ourselves of the habit of thinking of the Creator as we think of His creatures." Simply put, God is incomprehensible. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), and that's a good thing. In His infinite grace, God chooses to reveal Himself to us in His Word, the Bible.

With the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures illuminate our hearts and minds and equip us with Truth. However, we must accept that only God is all-knowing and there are certain things He chooses not to reveal to His children. However, because we know that God is holy, just, merciful, eternal, and unchangeable, to name just a few of His many attributes, we can trust that He is working all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). 

Third, Seek Wisdom over Knowledge

In most Bibles, the heading for 1 Kings chapter 3 is "Solomon Asks for Wisdom." Solomon, the son of King David, had some big shoes to fill. His father was known as a "man after God's own heart." Solomon became king at a young age; the Lord came to him in a dream and told Solomon that He would grant him anything he asked. Solomon's response, "Give your servant, therefore, an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who can govern this your great people?" (1 Kings 3:9).

Of all the things Solomon could have asked for—wealth, longevity, prosperity—he asked for wisdom. And this was the Lord's response, "Behold; I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you" (1 Kings 3:12).

Often we use wisdom and knowledge interchangeably, but they mean two different things. Knowledge is the acquisition of facts or information; wisdom is the proper application of knowledge. Many are knowledgeable, but few are wise. Even though Solomon had the reputation as the "wisest man that ever lived," he lamented numerous times that his quest for knowledge was meaningless. And the only pursuit worthwhile in this life is to fear God, the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Therefore, we must pursue wisdom, while accepting that as we become wiser there will be times when we won't have definite answers to many of our questions.

Fourth, Accept Not Having All the Answers

I recently stumbled on Deuteronomy 29:29, "The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but our children, and we are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions" (NLT). This verse offers hope. God does not hold us responsible for having an in-depth understanding of everything in the Scriptures. However, we are accountable for the things He has clearly outlined (like the Ten Commandments or salvation) in His Word. What a gift of grace that God doesn't expect or require us to answer all of life's tough questions, but trust Him and obey His clear commands.

Fifth, Say, "I don't know," Without Guilt

"I don't know." Those three little words are excruciating for me to utter, for I always want to know answers to most everything. The Bible is the inspired Word of God and is without error. The gospel message is straightforward, and God's grace and mercy are infinite. Yet, there are passages that God has chosen not to reveal with absolute clarity. Even when we seek to understand the context, to use Scripture to interpret Scripture, and pray that God grants us faith to trust Him, our finite, human minds will never fully comprehend it all.

Therefore, It is okay to tell our children, "I just don't know why or how, but I do know that God is in control of everything and all His ways are perfect, even when we don't always understand them." Producing robotic Christian "soldiers" who can list the Ten Commandments and recite the Beatitudes but have no personal relationship with the Lord is not the goal. We must rightly teach our children God's Word and pray they hear His voice, acknowledge their sin, repent and trust Him to save them.

My overriding desire is that through this process, my children will learn the following:

  1. When we’re spiritually stumped, pray and ask God to open our hearts and minds to help us better understand and to trust His Word even when we don’t fully understand.
  2. No matter how old we are, we will never know everything; God reveals Truth and knowledge to us through the working of the Holy Spirit and the hearing and reading of His Word.

We do not need to know all the answers; we serve an all-powerful and all-knowing Savior whose love is deep and wide and surpasses human knowledge and understanding (Ephesians 3:18-19). Our job is to point our children to the source of all wisdom and pray that God opens their hearts and minds to receive His Truth.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Tutye

Laura Bailey headshotLaura Bailey is deeply burdened for Christian women who, like herself, juggle marriage, motherhood, careers, church, and community. She candidly shares her daily struggles and lessons learned to encourage them to live fully and abundantly in Christ. She and her husband live in Gaffney, South Carolina with their three young girls. Connect with Laura on her blog, www.LauraRBailey.com or on Facebook and Instagram: @LauraBaileyWrites

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