Thursday, June 17, 2010

From the Mouth of Babes

Can I share a theological discussion I had last night with my daughter? I am still absolutely floored that this child, age five-and-three-quarters, this soul who did not exist six-and-a-half years ago, was able to hurl a moral boomerang back at me, leaving me almost speechless.

Every night before bed we try to read for twenty minutes or so with the Little One. Tuesday night she was reading – at her own request – her Child’s First Bible with her mom. Last night I continued with her. My daughter really likes this book. Every major bible scene takes just two pages and there are lots of fun and gentle illustrations. A few months ago we punished her for something by sending her to her room, and she read 65 pages of it during the hour of her exile!

So we skipped around, reading a bit about Gideon, Cain and Abel, Samson, Jesus with Nicodemus and Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well. As the twenty minutes were finishing up we ended with the story of the paralytic who wanted Jesus to heal him. The crowds were too dense in the home where Jesus was teaching, so the paralytic’s friends cut a hole in the roof and lowered the man down to the floor in front of Christ. The Lord marvels at the faith shown, forgives the man’s sins, and heals him.

“Why did he lose the use of his legs?” Little One asks.

“I don’t know. Maybe he had a disease, or maybe he got into an accident and broke both legs.” I don’t want to get too graphic, and I want to keep it simple so she doesn’t get lost in the details.

Then – pow! – it comes. “Did God take away the use of his legs?”

Uh-oh. “No, honey. God would never do anything to harm any of us. He loves us.”

I think she’s accepted my rebuttal, so I make noises to get her up and put her to bed. But she stops me with the second pow! “Daddy … I remember … a man named … Job. God let bad things happen to him …”

Job! My kindergarten grad is bringing up Job with me! Oh dear. How do I explain it to her, when I myself don’t fully understand all the spiritual lessons in that book? I’m not ready to discuss the theology of suffering, of evil, of seemingly-unrequieted faith, with the Little One. I’m not even sure I could answer any further questions she might throw at me. Do I plead the Fifth against this kindergarten theological assistant D.A.?

I regain some semblance of composure quickly. “Well, sweetie, there’s an expression that goes ‘the Lord works in mysterious ways.’ It means that we may not understand all that God does to us or allows to happen to us. We just need to have faith that ultimately, in the long run, things will work out well because He has our best interest at heart, because He loves us.”

Little One meditates on it, in that way that five-going-on-six-year-olds do, where you’re not quite sure if they’re thinking about what you just said or about a cartoon they watched earlier that afternoon. She hugs me and I carry her in to her bed, tuck her in, and turn out her bedroom light.

O Lord, grant me strength! And, more importantly, wisdom!

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