There’s No Such Thing as a Stupid Question, Dummy!

It’s official. All three of our kids have now asked me that dreaded question. No, it’s not the one about where babies come from, though we’ve already been through that. This one is much more difficult to explain. You can use drawings and science to explain human reproduction but you can’t find any helpful visual aids for this question: Why does God let bad things happen? That’s the one that stops me in my tracks.
My go-to answer usually sounds something like this: “Well, you know, if Eve hadn’t picked that fruit in the garden we’d still be living there. She disobeyed God and the world has been full of sin ever since.” I’ve used Eve as the scapegoat so many times that I’m pretty sure she’s going to punch me in the face when I get to heaven. “You’re Abby, right?” she’ll say, “Thanks for blaming me for tornados!” Then pow!
That may not be fair to Eve. I’m not clairvoyant enough to guess alternative endings for the beginning of man but I’ve known quite a few humans over the years and I can say with some certainty that we would’ve found a different way to disobey and screw up paradise even if it didn’t involve fruit trees.
What makes this question so difficult to sort through with my kids is that I don’t always believe my own answers. A God as mighty as He is could prevent death and destruction. Either I don’t believe in the extent of His mightiness or I don’t believe in the reach of His compassion. No matter how you look at it you come out feeling unsatisfied.
At some point during this deep theological discussion with my six-year old I had to own up to the fact that I couldn’t adequately answer his question about God’s action vs. God’s inaction. I could give him Biblical corroboration and anecdotal testimony but no proof. Eventually I had to say, “Knox, sometimes we just have to trust God and be okay that we don’t have all the answers.” After I said it and Knox happily went off to do whatever carefree six-year old boys do, I actually felt relief. I wasn’t as frustrated by my own ignorance as you might have expected.
I realized that I have a lot of questions of my own: Why do square envelopes require more postage than rectangle ones? Why do our goldfish keep disappearing and where are they going? Who keeps pooping on our pool cover? Those are just the ones I’ve asked in the last five minutes. I could keep going…
As I watched Knox turn and run off to play, I understood a tiny bit why Jesus asked his disciples to be like the little children. They are often satisfied with answers that rely on God’s sovereign yet undisclosed plan for them. Maybe it’s because they have to rely on others (mainly adults) every day to provide all the basics that keep them clean, healthy, and happy. When you become the adult provider you start to assume that you must always know everything about everything and if they sell it at Target.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay not to have all the answers. It’s fine to say those three little words: “I don’t know.” It’s also great to ask questions that we can’t answer. I want my kids to keep asking even if I have to keep answering with a “let’s look it up.” Maybe if we keep talking they’ll teach me a few things. Right now I would be happy just to know who’s pooping on the pool cover.

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