DOES GOD PUNISH US?

Nannygranne sat surrounded by the 4’s & 5’s in Bible class. “Today is WHY TIME,” she announced. “Today, you can write any question you would like to ask God. Then we’ll put them in an envelope, and I will pray and look at God’s words, and find your answer. When that happens, I’ll bring the answer back to you. OK?”

The class clapped and bounced in their chairs, excited to receive their yellow slips.

“You can draw a picture or come up and ask your answer, and I’ll write it down for you. Or, if you want to, you can raise your hand and ask your question, and I’ll write it down.”

All hands flew up around the room.  ‘You can raise your hand,’ is a trigger for preschoolers.  It feels so ‘school-like.’

Little Libby called out first, “Why did God send the flood in the Noah story?”

“Well, actually, I’ve already read God’s answer to your question. Would you like me to tell you about it now?”

“Yes!  I want it now!” she responded, happy to be picked.

“Why did the sailors throw Jonah overboard?” Dayson asked. A frown on his face, he crossed his arms. “That wasn’t very nice!” he declared.

“Why did King Nebuchadnezzar throw the three boys in the furnace: Shadrach, Meshach, and ‘A-ben-dego?'”  Kiera asked.

“Whoa!  ou have to slow down,” Nannygranne held up her hands and laughed. “You guys are too smart and fast! I need you to wait and watch me. I’m going to think.”

Nannygranne put her finger to her temple, looked up at the ceiling, drumming the fingers of her other hand on the table. When curiosity overcame their excitement, they grew quiet. She suddenly sat up in surprise, “I’ve GOT it!! Yes! I remember why God did all those things.” Then she frowned and scratched her head. “But, I’m wondering about something.”

She waited quietly, looking from face to face. Finally, Dayson, Jonah’s little advocate, said, “What? WHAT did He say?”

“Well, I can tell you what He said, but I’m wondering, is it unfair for God to let those sailors do that to Jonah? Weren’t there nice people who drowned, too, when God destroyed the Earth with a flood?  Why didn’t God stop old King Nebuchadnezzar?”

Now they were still, eyes wide, uncomfortable.  Did they just hear their Bible class teacher complain about God?

Nannygranne continued, “We’re not as smart as God, and sometimes we have to think a while about what He tells us in the Bible. But that’s OK because Moses asked God ‘why’ one day. Elijah asked God, ‘why.’  John the Baptist asked Jesus ‘why.’  And even Jesus asked his Father ‘Why’ one time.  Maybe what we’re really wondering is this: ‘ Why doesn’t God make everything OK for everybody?’ Do you ever wonder that?”

A couple of them nodded slowly. Nannygranne continued talking while handing each one a yellow question sheet along with crayons. “God can do anything He wants to do. God could stop everything wrong if He wanted to.” Then she suddenly stopped, leaned over the table as close to their faces as she could, and whispered her mysterious secret. “But He doesn’t because God wants every man and woman, and every boy and girl to WANT to listen to Him.”

Then finishing passing out the papers, she completed her thought. “You see, God doesn’t want to make us robots. So when people push God away, God lets them, but it’s not what He wants.”

They each quietly began coloring their papers. Nannygranne sat in her place and opened her Bible. “Here’s what God said in the Bible about Noah, Libby. Before the Flood, God said that all the people in the world–ALL the people–only did mean things all the time to everyone.  All anyone thought about was doing bad things to one another. Only Noah was ever good. So God put Noah and his family and the animals in the boat. He just let the people who didn’t want God to go with the other mean people. Then Noah and his family started a whole new group of people. Things were better after that.”

“And what about Jonah?” Dayson reminded, not looking up from his work.

Nannygranne turned a few pages in her Bible and answered, “Jonah knew he had not minded God and was trying to run away from God. God made a mighty wind to blow to scare Jonah and remind him who was in charge.  When the wind got worse and worse, Jonah was afraid the waves would break up the boat and kill the sailors. So Jonah told the sailors that it was his fault and to throw him out of the ship. They didn’t want to, but Jonah insisted. As soon as Jonah hit the water, the wind stopped. God sent a big fish to rescue Jonah, and Jonah told God he’d do what God told him to. So God helped Jonah do the right thing. It turned out better.”

“But Shadrack and Meshack and ‘A-ben-digo’ were nice. Why did they get in trouble?” Kiera’s lip stuck out as she talked, so worried about those three boys.

“You are so right, Kiera. Those three young men were very good. But old King Nebuchadnezzar was jealous! He wanted all of God’s people to pray to him and not to God. Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego would not bow down and worship that King. Instead, they just stood tall and looked to Heaven. So the king had them thrown into the furnace, but Jesus got in there with them and kept them from burning up. They didn’t even SMELL like smoke!” The class erupted with applause at Nannygranne’s victorious excitement. “When King Nebuchadnezzar saw that, he decided to worship God, too. So again, everything turned out better.”

“But if we’re bad like Jonah, will we get in trouble?” Dayson began.

“Or get us in a flood?” Libby worried

“Or the bad guys might get us?” Kiera whispered.

Nannygranne smiled and said, “Well, that’s the secret. Noah and Jonah and even Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego didn’t know this secret. Today we can be Christians, and the Holy Spirit can live inside us and help us be brave. And God doesn’t punish Christians when we accidentally do wrong. Jesus already got punished for our sins instead of us. That’s why he died on the cross. Jesus took our punishment.”

She waited to see if the children seemed to understand. Then she motioned for them to gather around her. “When bad things happen to Christians now, it’s not because God is angry. Satan is doing it to Christians. Satan wants us to give up on God, but God promises to help us get through our troubles. Even though troubles are hard, if we let God help us, He’ll train us to be stronger and wiser. And Satan can never beat us. And everything will turn out better in the end. God is our hero!

“Yea! God is our hero!!” Dayson cheered.

______________________________________

Genesis 6; Daniel 3; Jonah 1; 1 Cor. 10:13; Rom. 8:28; 2 Peter 3:9

Helpful videos:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv8h1f1bzB0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb5fEK99BIk

Author:

I am a mother, grandmother, nanny, and writer—with a passionate concern about children, all children. With the help of my son Travis (who has a graduate degree in apologetics) I hope to share some thoughts that will be helpful to all who have the same concern.

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