Life is full of questions. Children seem to be even more full of them! If you have ever spent some time working with—or even just hanging out with—a child who is old enough to at least try to talk, you most likely know exactly what I am talking about.
Some of the questions take a bit more thought: How long until this is over? How much is 60 times 20 times 35 plus 3 plus 500 million? Will I ever be good enough?
Sometimes we do not even have the answers: Why did my puppy have to die? Why did that man do that? What is Great-Uncle Martin’s favorite color?
Obviously, some of the questions are quite heavy. The answer gives the young mind yet another clue on how to view God, others, or themselves. Their destiny in this life or in eternity may, at least in part, hinge on this moment. Other times, though, the answer is more trivial. The question may have been formed simply out of curiosity, or as a test to “prove” that you, the answerer, really do know everything!
Either way, I believe that our positive, cheerful attitude toward children’s inquisitiveness will go a long way towards forming a bond of trust with them and towards helping them to form a bond of trust with God. Let’s face it: even God Himself—the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the Universe and beyond—has bidden us “Come now, let us reason together!” He does not ask for blind obedience; He longs for an intelligent, loving submission.
So how do we deal with the myriad of questions that may come our way? We must seek to be Christ-like in all of our dealings. We must face each day armed with prayer and with the Word of God. Then, we must call on Him in the moment.
James urges us, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” When faced with questions, it is often our natural tendency to become irritated or sarcastic—especially if we think the answer is obvious or we have already been asked that very question. Is this the way Jesus, the Master Teacher, would respond?
By studying Jesus’s interaction with people, it seems Requirement Number One for Christ-like response is honesty. If we know the truth, we can share it; if we do not have an answer, we should admit that.
Requirement Number Two could perhaps be tact. The truth is not always easy, but Jesus did point out that the truth will set us free! Take, for example, the woman at the well. Jesus has just pointed out her sins, and yet she does not feel humiliated. On the contrary, she feels excited and empowered—she wants everybody to come meet this Man who has the answers to life’s difficulties! When we share truth, the children should feel empowered. That is not to say that a realization of our sins is easy—it can be quite humbling—but humiliation is not a tactic of Heaven. When our Lord warns us that “the wages of sin is death”, He immediately follows with: “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Requirement Number Three is patience. Notice as you walk through the Gospels with Jesus just how many times He seemed a bit grieved with His hearers. Also notice that He still lovingly and kindly responded to their questions. How many times did Jesus repeat a truth that was simply not sinking in? (See how often He spoke of being crucified in Matthew 26 alone.) How often did He re-word something to help His disciples understand? (“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.”) How often was He forced to reprove a wrong idea, even in those He was closest to? (“But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”)
Requirement Number Four is wisdom. Only the Lord knows hearts. He knows lives. He knows dispositions. There will be times when the only contact we will ever have with a child will be when they show up for Vacation Bible School. I have even had a child in my class for a day when he was only passing through town on a trip. His father had noticed our advertisement in the local newspaper. We just never know who the Lord will place in our path, and no matter how much we think we know about a person, there are things in their life and heart that we will never know. We need the Holy Spirit’s direction to know how and what to speak—not to mention when and if to speak. Even Jesus sometimes chose the wisdom of silence. (“But [Jesus] held his peace and answered nothing.” Mark 14:61)
James sums it up quite well when he says in James chapter 3, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom…But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
Children have questions. God has answers. And by His Spirit, we can have the right attitude to help put the two together!