How to answer hard questions about faith
“Are there dinosaurs in Heaven?”
“Can God fly?”
“Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Couldn’t God save us a different way?”
These are just some of the questions that my kids ask us. Can you relate to this?
Kids are so curious and that is part of what makes them so wonderful. It’s their childlike faith that encourages them to ask questions. Instead of pushing their questions aside for fear of sounding silly or being shot down, kids ask us the tough questions. And if your kids are like mine, they ask them with confidence...it’s a good question and they will receive a good answer.
But, a lot of the times I don’t have good answers to their questions, even with a seminary degree under my belt and years of ministry experience. I don’t know if dinosaurs are in Heaven. I don’t really want dinosaurs in Heaven, but I can’t actually answer that question with certainty. In my son’s eyes dinosaurs are in Heaven and they build you a house when you get there. I think he imagines a Flinstones village in the clouds.
As for questions like, “Can God fly?” and "Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?” Some questions are best answered after some time to think. Those questions are highly theological and little kids generally don’t do well with long lectures and big words, so I usually answer those questions with, “You know what? That is a really big question, can we come back to that another time after I have some time to think?” or the very honest, “I don’t know.”
One night, my husband was putting my son to bed and he responded to one of his questions with, “I don’t know.” My son came up with the idea that we write down all our questions for God on a list and then we can remember them all when we get to Heaven. So that’s what we did. Our new answer became, “I don’t know, should we write it on our list?”
The Questions Box
When Sarah and I were speaking at a MOPS group, one of the women asked what we do about tough questions. We explained everything above and it started a great discussion. Another woman suggested making a questions box. A box where you could write down questions together and save them and also a special place where kids could write down questions for you to read later. We loved this idea and decided to incorporate it into our family!
Questions Lead to Growth
I love this idea because it encourages kids to continue asking tough questions. Part of faith in Jesus is asking those questions, working through them, and wrestling with doubt and the uncertainty of not being able to answer everything. It’s hard to say, “I don’t know, I can’t answer that” but it’s also okay!
Everything we do with our kids now will impact them later. That’s a daunting thought, right? But hear me out. If we encourage our children’s questions now, they will know it’s okay to wonder later. As a parent your home, your voice, and your heart will become a safe place for your child to run when they aren’t sure. We have an opportunity right now to answer questions like, “are there dinosaurs in Heaven?” in a loving, respectful, and fun way so that later when our kids are older and ask, “how do I know this is true?” they know that we are always available and always willing to walk alongside them.
Making a Questions Box
All you need is a box. A shoe box, wood box, whatever box you want. Your family could go to a craft store and buy a simple wooden box and paint it together. Make it fun and give your kids some ownership of the box. We used a box that some sweet junior high students painted me at camp ten years ago when I worked in youth ministry. I’ve saved it all these years and I’m so grateful that I did because it’s perfect for this.
When your kid has a question that you can’t quite answer (either immediately or ever!) write down these questions on a note card and put it in the box.
Tell them that if they have a new question, they can always ask you personally or they can write it down, put it in the box, and let you know it’s there.
Go through the box as a family every once and awhile and discuss the questions. Maybe you will have found some answers! Even if you haven’t, you’ll likely have a good discussion. And some of those sweet (sometimes funny) questions are worth saving.