I had a great few days off, unplugged from the world. Today I am pleased to have Linda Rice as guest blogger. I know her post will touch you. You can read more of Linda's writing here.
Some years ago, I was flying home from visiting a dear
Christian friend whose four-year-old son was dying from cancer. My heart felt
heavy for her and her husband. A man in the seat next to me, when he learned of
the situation and of my faith in Christ angrily erupted with, “How can you
believe in God when He lets a child die?!” As we talked, I learned that his
wife had died several years earlier and he was still furious about it.
They may not know it, but children who have been abused or
experienced tragedies are grappling with the same quandary. How can there
be a God if bad things happen? Even if there is a God, if bad things happen to
me does it make sense to trust Him?
To help a child examine the issue, we might break the
propositions into three points. (These didn’t originate with me, but I don’t
remember where I obtained them.)
1. God is completely good.
2. God is completely powerful.
3. Evil exists (and happens).
What is the logical conclusion? Since evil exists, God
is either not good (because He won’t stop evil) or not powerful so He can’t
What results from this conclusion? The man on the plane
clung to unending grief and an abiding anger. He adamantly declared himself an
atheist. When God is painted out, life is a bleak, black canvas. In contrast,
my friend who was in the horrible process of losing her child drew closer into
God’s embrace. She refused to react sinfully. She has continued to grow in the
beauty of grace. How could she do so? The Christian incorporates one more
proposition beyond the original three.
4. God has a morally good reason for the evil
God works everything to the praise of His glory, which is the greatest good.
And for those who love Him, He also works everything for their welfare. (Eph.
1; Rom 8:28)
The emotions and behaviors of the difficult or alienated
child demonstrate his answer to the problem of evil. God is neither good nor
powerful. Therefore, He can’t be trusted. Therefore, the child must take
control of his world to gain safety or justice or pleasure or whatever he deems
to be good for himself. He is a practicing atheist.
We want to help him see his trials more in accord with
reality by learning and rightly responding to the fourth proposition.
Rather than red slashes on a canvas of black, they are multicolored brush
strokes layered among the glorious hues and shades of God’s sovereignty,
goodness, wisdom, and power, and can enhance the creation of a great portrait.
These four points might serve as a simple framework for helping your child
change his perceptions and perspective on past, present, and future
difficulties. Here are some ideas for implementing them in conversations:
To prepare yourself, study what the Bible says about
adversities and evil in light of God’s sovereignty, goodness, wisdom, and
power. (Perhaps start with Genesis 3:16-19; 1 Timothy 6:15; Psalm 119:67-68;
Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 4:7-18; James 1; Romans 5:1-5; and 1 Peter
Take the initiative to ask the hard questions. “How can
there be a God if evil exists? When bad things happen, does it make sense to
trust God?” Place these questions in open view on the table of a conversation.
Teach each of the points separately. Discuss how they
Read about people in the Bible who experienced mistreatment.
Relate the four points. How did those people respond and what consequences
resulted? What difference did (or would have) belief in the fourth proposition
make? (Some well-known examples include Esau, Joseph, David, Job, Daniel,
Jesus, and Paul.)
Apply these truths to the child’s past and present
difficulties. How might his attitude and feelings change if he accepts and
applies the fourth proposition?
Discuss the future. Difficulties will come. How
might an adoption of God’s perspective make it easier to respond rightly to
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