“Momma, does God have a plan for COVID-19?”
“Yes” I squeaked out, hoping that for once, she did not have a follow-up question. Before the “s” left my lips, the words, “Well, what is it, then?” already hung in the air.
What my daughter really wanted to know was this: Does God know about COVID-19, and if so, why did He allow this to happen, and what is He going to do about it?
In truth, I was hardly surprised. Earlier in the week that same child had pitched other tough questions: “Why didn’t God just kill Satan?” and “What about the people who have never heard about Jesus—do they go to Heaven?” The more we, as a family, read the Bible and discuss our faith in action, the deeper and more complex her questions become. I get it; I have a lot of questions, too. There are numerous things in the Bible that I can’t wrap my head around and struggle to accept by mere faith.
As Christian parents, we have two choices when our children come to us with questions about God, the Bible and spiritual matters: we can dispense a bandaid answer and hope that suffices or we can grab our tool box and get to work. Children may not have the mental capability or maturity to understand the biblical answer to all of their inquiries; nevertheless, we must not ignore their questions but try to clearly answer as best we can on their level of understanding (and ours). For example, when my daughter asked, “What do you mean, God is Jesus?” I thought, Well, dear, I am still processing how the trinity “works,” myself, so maybe now’s a better time to introduce this topic with a lesson on God’s attributes instead of trying to explain the trinity.
It’s important to embrace our children’s curiosity, while also acknowledging that there are some things we do not understand ourselves, (nor will we this side of eternity). As children mature, they become wary of rote Sunday School answers, but you need not be a Christian apologist to discuss the Bible with them. Their questions provide an intimate peek into how God is working in their hearts and minds; however, it can be a bit overwhelming for Christian parents who sincerely want to impart correct biblical beliefs and values to their children and above all, for those who fervently pray for the salvation of their children.
When my oldest daughter began asking questions of a spiritual nature, I feared giving her the wrong answer. I believed it necessary to have every related Scripture at the forefront of my mind, a thesis statement prepared, and compelling arguments to convince her of my viewpoint. Yes, we should prepare for opportunities to teach our children about the Lord, but we must refrain from positioning ourselves up front and center during the process. This is not about us. It is about our Creator placing the desire in our children’s hearts to learn more about Him as we rely on the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to work through us to save their souls (Romans 6:10-11).
Parents are only human, not gods, which children need to understand early on. Our job is to ask God to pour out His grace and mercy on them and to use us as instruments that lead them to a saving knowledge and personal relationship with Christ, no matter how difficult their questions or how wayward their paths or how “grown up” they become.
So, what must we do so the Lord will work through us to teach our children about Him and lead them to faith in Christ?
Yes, this is the quintessential church answer. But, it is the most crucial step for a multitude of reasons. Before I engage in any conversation about the Bible, I pray. Aloud. It is simple, but typically goes something like this: “ Lord, I pray that you give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Open our eyes, ears and our hearts so we will come to know you better.” (Ephesians 1:17-18)
We study GOD’S WORD.
It amazes me when someone prays the scriptures from memory. I sit in awe when believers debate by using Scripture to support their arguments, without looking at their Bibles. I desperately want to know their secret.
Spoiler alert: it is not a secret. Those people read and study the Bible. A lot.
Study means to repetitively read, mull over, examine and research and mull over some more. Earlier this year, I took a class that required me to read the book of Ephesians fifty times. For context, Ephesians is a short book of only six chapters, roughly a thirty-minute read, but reading it fifty times would consume twenty-five hours! My first thought: Who has time for that?! Hmm . . . I seem to find time to watch television, scroll through social media, and read fiction, but time to study God’s Word? Needless to say, immediately, the Lord convicted me about my priorities.
We can’t teach what we do not know. It is our job, as Christian parents, to know what the Bible says. Above all else on our to-do list, spending time in God’s Word must be at the top. God’s work isn’t coincidental or random; by His sovereign hand, everything conforms to the purpose of His will (Ephesians 1:11). His word provides the blueprint for His children to live in this world by faith, trusting and obeying Him.
After reading and studying Ephesians numerous times, I pray the words that Paul wrote to the early churches. I prepare for spiritual battle as instructed in chapter 6. Now, when my daughter comes to me with difficult questions, I tell her what God has told us and pray it assures her of His goodness and love for her.
We practice HONESTY.
“I don’t know.” Those three little words are excruciating for me to utter, for I always want to know the answer. The Bible is the inspired word of God. It is without error. The Gospel message is straightforward, and God’s grace and mercy are infinite. Yet, there are passages that God has chosen not to reveal with absolute clarity. Even when we seek to understand the context, to use Scripture to interpret Scripture, and pray that God grants us faith to trust Him, our finite, human minds will never fully comprehend it all.
It is okay to tell our children, “I just don’t know why or how, but I do know that God is in control of everything and all His ways are perfect, even when we don’t always understand them.” Producing robotic Christian “soldiers” who can list the Ten Commandments and recite the Beatitudes but have no personal relationship with the Lord is not the goal. We must rightly teach our children God’s Word and pray they hear His voice, acknowledge their sin, repent and trust Him, alone, to save them.
My overriding desire is that through this process, my children will learn:
1) When we have a problem, pray to God and ask for His wisdom.
2) No matter how old we are, we do not know everything; God reveals truth and knowledge to us through the working of the Holy Spirit and the hearing of His Word.
3) We must ask God to open our hearts and minds to help us understand and accept His Word.
So, does God have a “plan” for CoVID-19? Of course. Do I know exactly how that plan is going to work? Of course, not. But, I know that God had a plan to make Abraham the father of many generations and nations when he was childless in his old age. I know that God had a plan for Esther to deliver her people from genocide when she was in a dangerous place during a very dangerous time. I know that God had a plan to redeem the world through His son after Adam sinned and was cast out of the Garden of Eden. We do not need to know all the answers; we serve an all powerful and all knowing Saviour whose love is deep and wide and surpasses human knowledge and understanding (Ephesians 3:18-19).
God always has a plan, and He is always working for our good and His glory to save us. Always.