We’ve all been there. A mom is humming the Curious George theme song while doing dishes when she’s hit with this:
Mommy, where did God come from? Who made him? Was it dark before he created darkness? How will baby brother know when it’s time to come out of your belly? And can I have some blueberries for a snack?
Kids ask compelling questions. Often they have a lot of them. As parents, we are blessed with the responsibility to train up our children in the Lord. Part of this training involves taking the time to answer tough questions in ways their little minds can understand. And many of the questions are wonderful opportunities for sharing the gospel.
Here are four examples of ways we have tried to answer such questions.
1. Where did God come from? Who made him?
God existed before time even existed. Nobody made him. He has always lived. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God has been God since further back than we can even imagine.
2. Why do people have to die?
Originally, God made people so they would never die. But when people started to sin, the whole world became sick and confused. People started to die physically, just like they do today. Our souls never die, though. Souls are the parts of us that make us who we are inside, including the things we can’t see (our thoughts, personalities, feelings, and so on). The Bible says that when Christians no longer have a physical body, their soul is at home with God (2 Cor. 5:8). One day, when Christians are raised like Jesus, they will receive new (and better!) bodies (1 Cor. 15:42–44).
3. How does God make a baby grow inside a mommy’s belly?
God has made our bodies in such an amazing way. A mommy’s body feeds and nourishes the baby while he or she grows, but God is the one who is growing the baby (kind of like the plants outside). There is so much mystery to God. He is so powerful that he can create galaxies in outer space and he can also create tiny little people. Psalm 139:16 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Did you know that babies start out so small that we wouldn’t be able to see them with our eyes? Usually, over the course of about 280 days, God builds a full baby, inside and out. We can’t understand how it all works, but it’s evidence God is both delicate and powerful at the same time.
4. Why can’t astronauts see heaven when they go into the sky?
Nobody will be able to fully see heaven or hell during this life. Many people believe heaven and hell are in a different dimension. In the Bible, God gave four men visions of heaven: Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and John. He gave two men glimpses of heaven: Micaia and Stephen. We can read about some of those experiences in the Bible. Astronauts will have to wait to see heaven or hell, just like the rest of us.
Additionally, here are four things we’ve tried to keep in mind while seeking to answer big questions from our little people:
1. It’s okay to say “I don’t know.”
Since God is full of mystery, our minds are not nearly equipped to answer every single question about God and spiritual things. It’s okay to tell our kids, “I’m not sure, but let me find out.” Sometimes, though, our answer must be, “Honey, God is so big that we can’t understand all of him.”
2. Take the time to answer.
Charles Spurgeon reminds us what’s at stake in this critical task: “You may speak but a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian church in years to come.”
It can be easy to brush off a child’s questions due to busyness, exhaustion, or even frustration. Throughout Scripture we see the importance of passing wisdom about God and his works from generation to generation (e.g., Deut. 6:7; Ps. 71:18; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 1:5). God has chosen parents to bear the primary responsibility of teaching their children—and our little ones afford us many opportunities to fulfill it.
3. Be patient.
We all know 50 questions in a row can wear anyone down. A simple and lighthearted, “Buddy, I’m so glad you are so curious; let’s take one question at a time” is all it takes to slow the conversation down a bit. Don’t let frustration get in the way of an excellent opportunity.
4. Remember the child’s age.
Take your kid’s age into account when deciphering how to answer their question. If you have a 4-year-old asking about why bad things happen, your answer should be significantly shorter than for a 10-year-old asking the same thing.
Don’t expect a small child to have the same attention span as older children. On the other hand, don’t shortchange an older child who genuinely wants to understand. Read about the topic together and discuss it as deeply as they’re willing.
May we be aware that the Lord is always working even through the daily interactions with our children. Those deep questions, though seemingly random, are divinely planned invitations teach the next generation about the character of God and his marvelous deeds.