My son, Noah, was born precociously curious. Even as a toddler swishing around in diapers, he always found ways to ask questions.
“What does that mean?”
“Who is that, Mommy?”
When he was six, I took Noah on a trip to Benjamin Harrison’s home in Indianapolis because he asked so many questions about this Hoosier President. As we toured the old home, I thought, “What six-year-old cares about this stuff?”
I used to feel confident answering his questions. However, by the time Noah was in second grade, his inquiries got much harder.
“Mommy, why does God allow pain and suffering?”
“Oh boy,” I thought, “A budding philosopher.” I paraphrased a C.S. Lewis quote:
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
I then explained that it was man’s choice to do bad things, and God was not to blame for those choices.
“But Mommy, why doesn’t Jesus just stop the bad stuff now and come back to get us?”
I tried to cover my shock at the fact that he was already wrestling with the same questions that kept even the brightest minds up at night and bravely forged ahead. “Honey, if time and space were through today, no one else could call out to Jesus and be saved. God waits because He wants all to come home. He is patient and kind. However, there will be a day in the future when God’s patience will run out. He will come back to defeat His enemies and make everything right again.”
Now that Noah is ten, I worry that I won’t be able to keep up with his quick mind. Here is a list of topics discussed in one twenty minute car ride a couple weeks ago:
- North Korea; How and why its people are oppressed
- Martin Luther King and his philosophy of nonviolence; Rosa parks, bus boycotts, sit-ins and other ways of protesting
- How Gandhi was MLK’s example; Gandhi led the folks of India to independence from British rule through nonviolent protest
- Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party and violent resistance
- Malcolm X’s Muslim faith
- Islam and Mormonism; How both religions began with an encounter with a bad spirit masquerading as an angel of light; How the Bible warned about such spirits, and if the Prophet Mohammad or Smith had been knowledgeable of these warnings in Scripture, they and their followers would not have been deceived
- The continuing racial tensions in this country and how they differ in the north and south
Noah peppered me with questions so fast that I was sagging with mental exertion by the time we got to our destination. Inwardly I thought, “Man, I’m in trouble. I am out of my depth here.”
I am preparing to launch into a new season homeschooling. It’s a bit scary to think that I will be my children’s teacher this fall. History, philosophy, literature, and science all weave together to show the character and nature of God. They shout of His love and faithfulness if we take the time to listen and observe. While the core subjects are important, it is so much more important that my children learn more about King Jesus as they study. What an exciting challenge!
If the above conversation in the car and other such discussions have taught me anything, it is this: they are poignant reminders that I cannot do this task of teaching my kids by myself. Every day of school will begin with prayer, and I will need to rely on God each moment of the day.
After chewing on these thoughts for a few days, I finally looked at my son one afternoon and said with earnest, “Noah, you are so smart. There will be a day in the future that I will no longer be able to answer your questions, but there is someone who can. Do you know who that is?”
“God,” he replied.
“Yes, that’s right, Noah. Know that He is just waiting to talk with you.”
I believe that questions are good. So does Our Father. He says, “Come, let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18) There are no subjects off limits, and no question is too big (or too small). He loves when we come to Him and invites us to the table of discussion. He’ll even feed us while we are there in His house. (Matthew 4:4) 🙂
My parent’s pastor once taught that we should never presume to ask Our Father, “Why?” I understand where this beautiful man of God is coming from, but after thinking about it very carefully, I would like to amend to his teaching. I have arrived at the conclusion that Why? is an okay question. I don’t think Jesus would chase the curious away if they are truly humble and seeking.
Why is a question often asked by the more spiritually immature. When we first come to Christ, we are learning to trust Him. We have not experienced God’s provision yet, have not learned of His kindness, and His amazing love for us is brand new. We are like little children trying to understand what it is to live in a broken world. It’s flabbergasting. It’s painful. We look up to heaven and ask, “Why?”
- Why did you take my mother, God?
- Why did You make me with big feet?
- Why is there so much suffering?
This is where my son is in his development. He is trying to understand and discern. He is wrestling. Wrestling is good because after Noah has sat at Jesus’s feet and hashed through these hard conversations, his faith will be richer, more meaningful, and most importantly rock solid. It’s a little nerve wracking to watch him work and wrestle, but it is also so beautiful.
However, as we grow in God, we begin to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:18). Our faith grows and morphs into total trust. We know that God is sovereign and only has what’s best for us in mind. It is then that we begin to ask the question that my parents’ pastor condones: What?
- What are You teaching me Jesus?
- What am I to learn, Lord, as I experience the loss of my mother?
- God, I know that big feet help me in some way because You are altogether good. What is the benefit? Help me see it!
- What can I learn about Your patience and compassion in suffering?
As we approach the world with open eyes and ears, each day becomes a chance to grow. More importantly, each lesson gives us the grand opportunity to learn more about Jesus. Oh it’s marvelous. HE is marvelous.
So, dear ones, I invite you to ask. Ask away. There is no question that He can’t handle.