Dad, “Why do bad things happen?”
(I recently found this while going through my documents, and although written a number of years ago, it is still a good memory for me. Many other questions have been asked since this one and God has helped me to answer. My nine year old is almost fifteen now.)
Walking past my girls’ room a few weeks ago, I heard my oldest (9) say, “Dad?” I stopped, wondering why she was not going to sleep and answered, “Yes, honey”.
It was then that she asked me the question. Not any question, but a very difficult one to answer, and I still am unsure what caused her to think of asking.
“Dad, if God loves us and He knows everything, why do bad things happen?”
My mind raced, pondering what to say or do. Should I say, “Sweetie, it’s late and you need rest. We will talk about that tomorrow.” Thereby having time to gather my thoughts and do some googling or other research.
Maybe I should just tell her, “Honey, I don’t know, but I do know that we can trust God. Now go to sleep.”
In an instant of mind wrestling I realized that I had better seize this opportunity for a lesson. A lesson which I felt inadequate to deliver. I wasn’t sure what to say, but called for my wife to come, turned on the light and sat next to my daughters’ bed. My other daughter was paying attention now as well. What I said may not be remembered, and I’m not sure I gave the best answer, but how could I let such a question go unanswered.
I started by saying, “That is a question for the ages. People have been trying to figure out the answer to that for many years and will still be for many years to come. Honey, do you know what was the most horrible, bad, thing that ever happened?”
“I don’t know,” came the response. My mind was still formulating how to answer fully.
“The baddest thing, the most horrible thing that ever happened was when Jesus died on the cross to redeem us for our sins. The very God of the universe, put to death His own Son. There was never a worse thing, and will never be a thing more bad than that. And do you know what the best thing, the very best thing that ever happened in all the world was, Honey?”
“I don’t know”
“Sweetie, the very bestest thing, the most wonderful thing, was also the very baddest thing, the most horrible. Jesus death on the cross was the worst thing and the best thing ever. It was the worst; God’s own Son, the one who created the world dying an awful, painful death. And it was the best; God’s own Son, the one who created the world redeeming people, giving heaven and hope to the world. At the same time the worst thing was happening, the very best thing ever was happening. Honey, sometimes we don’t understand, but we can trust God. Sometimes what we see as bad, He sees as good. Sometimes what we think is horrible may be just the thing that is the best thing. People will ask the same question you asked for many years, and you will probably ask it many times yourself, but one thing we know for sure is that we can trust God.”
“Honey, does that answer your question?”
“Goodnight, I love you Sweetie.”
Well, I left the room feeling satisfied that I hadn’t dodged the question, but also feeling that I had better brush up on my theology for this and the many other questions that are sure to come in years ahead.