This article is part of the Answering Kids’ Hardest Questions series.
God Is Always Good
Will God always keep me safe? This is a question that impacts kids as well as adults. I was recently in a church service where there was a report about a mission trip that was being communicated. It was a trip to a difficult area, and the statement was made, “We just trusted God, and we knew that everything was going to be okay. And God took care of us, and things went well.”
Of course, as a church, we celebrated that. But as I heard those words, I couldn’t help but think there are missionaries who don’t have that outcome. There are those who go into difficult places and encounter difficult situations. How do we reconcile those challenging stories with the fact that I thought God was supposed to take care of us? I thought God was supposed to always keep me safe.
As a parent, we’re often looking at our kids, trying to help them overcome fears that they might be encountering in their lives. We might be tempted to look at them and say, “Hey, we trust in God, and nothing bad is going to happen.”
But we also have to remember that God never gives us that promise. In fact, as uncomfortable as it may seem, Jesus tells us quite the opposite. He says, If you will follow me, if you’re going to come after me, you’re going to take up your cross daily. The path to follow Jesus is not a path to alleviate and to escape suffering or unsafe things.
One of the most amazing truths of the Christian faith is to look back over 2,000 years and see life after life after life of missionary, of minister, of those who have faithfully followed Christ in the midst of suffering and in the midst of things that were not safe—and they did it in a way that was joy-filled and God-glorifying.
And so, in essence, this question, Will God always keep me safe?, is the question, Does being a Christian mean that I’m never going to encounter suffering? And the answer to that is no.
God does not promise to leave us alone. God does not promise to not allow us to encounter these circumstances. But what God does promise us is that he is good and that he is always working for the good of his people.
So when we, as Christians, enter into those situations and we wonder, Is God going to keep me safe? Is God going to protect me?, what we should fall back into is not a promise that wasn’t made but a person who has been revealed.
God comes to us as a good God who loves us and who is in control of our lives and in control of our world. If it is good for us, then God will bring it about for his people.
How do we communicate the truth of this to our children? One of the central ideas here is that we’re not God. We don’t have God’s perspective. God loves us and is working for our good, and God sees how all of life fits together in a way that we don’t understand.
As a parent, perhaps it’s easy for us to make that connection (or a little easier) because with children, you’re regularly reminded that you need to do things for them that they may not like or they may not see the value of, but it’s loving and good and kind to do that as a parent.
We don’t have God’s perspective. God loves us and is working for our good, and God sees how all of life fits together in a way that we don’t understand.
Now, children don’t have that perspective. But perhaps your kids have a pet or perhaps there’s an animal at your house that they care for. I can look at my kids and say, “Do you think our dogs want to eat all the time?” And they would say, “Yes, they do, because they will eat anything.”
And I could ask them, “Would it be loving to give them all the food that they want?” And I think my kids would quickly say, “No, because they would become unhealthy, they would get diseases, they wouldn’t be able to play. It would be bad for them to eat as much as they want.”
And so I can ask them, “Is it kind for us to not give the dogs what they want because it’s not good for them?” And I think they’ll begin to see that. And perhaps that helps their minds begin to grasp something of the difference of perspective.
They can see how withholding this from this animal is actually a loving act and a good thing. So it is possible that God—who has a much greater perspective than we do—can at times withhold things that we want or that we think we need because in his infinite goodness, he knows that it is not good for us.
These questions are never easy, and as a parent, you never seem to get them at the most opportune time. But parents, I want to encourage you to not run away from hard questions with your kids. In fact, walk with them through it. If they hit you with a hard question the second they jump in the car in the pickup line in the midst of running errands and you have no mental capacity to answer, just say, “That’s a great question, and let’s talk about that later tonight.”
And then try to have the ability to circle back to that. Give it some thought, and then sit down and say, “Let’s talk through this.” As difficult as these questions are, these are the signs that our kids care about important things. The last thing we want to raise are kids who have turned off their sensibilities to things that matter. We want our children to identify important things in life and about God and their faith and push into them, just as we did.
I want to encourage you that you’re not going to do it perfectly. I don’t do it perfectly. None of us do. But it’s worth doing, and I want to encourage you to keep having those conversations.
William R. Osborne is the author of God, You Are: 20 Promises from the Psalms for Kids.
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