These tips from David Jennings will help guide you the next time a child asks one of these stumpers.
People ask some really tough questions. Take the questions Thom Schultz gets on his blog for example. Recently, Thom posted 21 Unsolved Mysteries of the Church, questions from people who were looking for answers. It’s definitely worth the read.
That got me thinking … sometimes in children’s ministry, kids ask hard questions. So today I’d like to tackle three tough questions kids ask about God. Hopefully these will help guide you the next time a child asks a stumper.
1. Why does God let people die?
Preschoolers are learning to deal with separation—Mommy comes back when she leaves me—and may not understand the permanency of physical death. They do understand sadness and someone going away. Explain that God is sad when we’re sad and that people who know Jesus go to heaven to be with God.
Following a death, elementary-age children may be scared they will die, too. Reassure your child that although death on earth means the person is absent from us, he’s present with God. It’s hard when we can’t be with someone we love, but one day we’ll be together in heaven. It’s okay to be sad or even angry at God.
Preteens can understand that God never wanted death. Death is a result of sin and, since we’re all sinners, God sent Jesus so we can have eternal life. People who know Christ go to heaven. Although we’re sad when someone we love dies, we have to trust God. It’s hard to understand that our time on earth is insignificant compared with our eternal life in a perfect place forever.
Related Scriptures: Ephesians 2:8-9 says God saved us through grace, and we accept that through faith.
2. Who made God?
Most preschoolers will be satisfied if you simply say no one made God. Only things that have a beginning, like toys, have to be made. Since God didn’t have a beginning, he didn’t need anyone to make him.
Strap yourself in for a romp through science, theology and philosophy. There’s plenty you could study and discuss, but the answer really comes down to faith and believing God has always been around. Honor the question, but bring your child back around to Jesus, who considered God eternal. If Jesus is real—and right—his teaching about God is the same.
This question is sometimes tossed at Christian preteens to attack their faith. If your preteen is asking this question, he might feel he needs a rational answer or his faith is a sham. Reassure your child there are some things about God we simply can’t understand. We know God has always been around and there was no beginning to God’s life, even if that’s hard to understand. Some things we take on faith—trusting that the God we know can be bigger than the answers we find so comforting.
Related Scriptures: Read Isaiah 40:28; 55:8-11; Psalm 90:2; Romans 16:26; and 1 Timothy 1:17.
3. Does God ever talk to people out loud so they can hear him?
Write a note to your preschooler and offer to read it to her. Tell her that often God speaks to his people through the Bible—his giant note to the world. Yes, God can speak out loud…but he usually uses the Bible.
The short answer: Yes…though God usually “speaks” through the Bible. Your child may be wondering why, if God wants us to do what he wants, he doesn’t just tell us what he wants…audibly. After all, that’s what parents do! But God also speaks to us through our hearts sometimes. Ask your child if she wants to hear God’s voice speaking to her and, if she does, pray together that she’ll always have a heart that is listening for God’s voice.
Yes, God can speak audibly—the Bible documents examples of that happening and some Christians report hearing God speak. But having that experience doesn’t mean someone is more spiritual than others. Through the Holy Spirit, God speaks into the lives of all Christians. What sets some Christians apart is that they actually listen—and obey. Ask your child if she’s willing to obey when God speaks to her through the Bible or within her heart.
Related Scriptures: God speaks through the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).
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