WHY TIME with NannyGranne

The Question Nobody Asks

Maybe it’s because of my natural self-concern but,  like many people, I have asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Also, often the guilty seem to glide through life untouched by tragedy or need. That’s unfair, too. So why do good things happen to bad people? (Oops, there it is again:  human selfishness!)

Then it occurred to me that people seem to be asking, “Why do bad things happen?” But nobody seems to be asking, “Why do good things happen?” If we stop and think about it, there are many good things in life. Why do these happen? Yes, even to bad people.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this: God is not like me. I am filled with self-concern; I overflow with selfishness. I want good things to happen to good people and (okay, I admit it) I don’t lose much sleep when bad things happen to bad people. But, thank God, He is not like me.

God is Love. He loved so much that He paid a blood price high enough to pay the penalty for every evil thought or act throughout history, including yours and mine. Then He illuminated humanity’s path leading to Him with Nature’s message, directives through prophets and apostles, and even as our Mentor of Life: The man Jesus of Nazareth. After that, He offered to live not just beside us, but in us: through His Holy Spirit.

Perhaps most intriguing of all, He’s gentleman enough to continue providing each of us with life and time (as well as whatever individual motivation works best) as He waits for us to accept His offer—or not.  If we accept His offer and choose Him, He’s unwilling to leave us as we are and works within us to remake and remold us into His beautiful likeness.  He gives us a life lived well in His ways and then welcomes us Home in the end.

However, if we refuse his offer, while (and as long as) we do so, He continues to bless us as long as we live, giving us a chance to repent.  But if we fail to do so, in the end because we’ve clearly indicated our choice, He finally lets us go.  And that’s Love!

God loves us all more than we could ever hope to deserve. So why does God give us good things even when we don’t deserve it? Because He is God. And we are not.

The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare. Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness”. Apostle Peter,  2 Peter 3:9-11.

THE KEY TO INSTILLING FAITH IN CHILDREN

(Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Coy Roper – brother to David Roper, the author of the Zoey series. Concerned parents will want to take advantage of supplementary aids (Bible classes, good literature, etc.) to help instill faith in their children – but nothing can take the place of their Christian teaching and example. That is the thrust of Mr. Roper’s article.)

When I was a kid, I earned about God from my parents.

From my earliest memories, we went to church every Sunday morning and night and Wednesday night. As children we went to Bible classes, but there were no special arrangements for us during the worship services. We sat with the adults, sang with the adults, listened to the sermons as if we were adults (except when I went to sleep on my mother’s lap).

We learned the Bible, just as adults did: If there’s a “thus saith the Lord” behind a command or practice, we had to do it. We learned doctrine: what the church was about, what it was supposed to teach. We also learned what Christians are supposed to be and do (not that we always did what we learned).

For us, religion was not just something to be felt or enjoyed; it was something to be learned—with the mind—and appreciated and, if necessary, defended. The head, not just the heart, was involved.

And, as if that weren’t enough, we learned at home. Sometimes our parents taught us—mostly by telling us what was right and wrong and (especially) by letting us know in no uncertain terms what we could and could not do. (If we did what was forbidden, there was a price to be paid! Our parents didn’t believe in “sparing the rod and spoiling the child.”)

But mostly our parents showed us what Christianity is all about: among other things, going to church regularly, helping other people, refraining from lying and stealing and such like, being careful what you say, and, as a family, and especially as a husband and wife, loving one another.

Consequently, I don’t remember ever having any doubts about God, or any questions about whether Jesus was the Son of God, or about whether the Bible was the book of God.

I attribute my continuing faith and faithfulness to my parents—Dave H. and Lillian Roper—who brought me up in the way of the Lord, teaching me and helping me learn and believe that God is real and that I must do His will.

All of which makes me think that the key to instilling faith in children is for them to be reared by Christian parents in a loving Christian home where the church is important, Christ is honored, and the Bible is respected, studied, and obeyed.

Coy and his wife, Sharlotte

Did Adam and Eve Have Bellybuttons?

She giggled when she handed me the slip.  Her Bible class had received a stack of yellow papers along with a WHY TIME box for collecting anonymous questions. But she wanted to have some fun.

I took her paper as she watched for my reaction. Of course, I giggled with her and thanked her. “Do you want me to mail your answer or tell you what I think? Or do you really want to know?”

She looked at me and said, “Oh, it’s not important. Don’t worry about it.”

“I told the class that there is no silly question when it comes to God, so it’s OK.”

I offered to give the slip back to her, but she waved it off. “It’s OK; you can keep it.”

I think she may have been at least curious, knowing the answer made no significant difference. But being willing to learn made all the difference.

“I’ll see if I can come up with something that makes sense. Watch the bulletin board in class. Ok?” I called to her as she walked on. I wanted her to know God was no joke.

When I got home, I found other questions: “How were people made?” “Why is God hiding so that we can’t see Him?”, and “Did God create aliens?”

I wish I could sit down and ask these kids some clarifying questions like, “Do you think God couldn’t make any other beings than humans on earth?” or “Are you worried you can’t find God and be with Him?” Another question would be, “Would you like to see how God does what He does?”

Then I could answer, “God did make other beings besides these on earth. He created angels and heavenly creatures before He made our world. We’ll need to wait and find out if He’s made other worlds. He’s certainly had plenty of time. In the meantime, we do know He made us, and communicated to us how to live well, and also how to find Him if we wish.”

And about finding God, I would assure them that God has shown himself in two ways:  in the Bible, and by what He’s made.  And He wants us, and wants us to want Him enough to look for Him. One of God’s workers visited Athens, where people thought the gods were Zeus, Athena, Apollo, and hundreds of others. He told them:

From one man he has made every nation of humanity to live all over the earth. He has given them the seasons of the year and the boundaries within which to live. He has done this so that they would look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. In fact, he is never far from any one of us. Certainly, we live, move, and exist because of him. – Apostle Paul, Acts 17:26-28

As for seeing what God does next, He’s invited us to do just that. His plan is for us to choose Him and His ways. Then eventually He will take us home to be with Him forever. We’ll be amazed and honored to see and celebrate God’s work throughout eternity! And He will answer all of our questions. I don’t want these kids–or me– to miss out on that!

So did Adam and Eve have bellybuttons?  Since neither were formed inside a mother, I doubt it.

But many things only God knows for certain, and in the end that’s a question for Him.

“The Lord, our God, has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.” Deuteronomy 29:29

Why do kids get cancer, ADHD, or killed in tornados?

As I waited in the pick-up line for the school bell to ring, my heart shuddered beneath the weight of knowing how children in this world suffer. Some suffer because of the sin of others, from abortion, neglect or abuse, kidnapping, and slavery, hunger and warring adults around them. Others suffer under the cold realities of nature. “Atheism points more to the problem of suffering to justify their denial of God’s existence than any other fact.” – John Lennox.

My young friends have asked questions about this in many forms. My young friend wanted to know about those hurt in tornados and why God let that happen. The problem will never be answered to the satisfaction of all humanity, not because there are no answers, but because sometimes we don’t like the answers when they come.

The bell rang, and soon he was running to the car, carrying his backpack with one arm, since the other was in a cast.  “Let me help you with your backpack,” I greeted. “Are you in the mood for ice cream by any chance?”

“All RIGHT!” he cheered. “I want blue ice cream!”

I smiled and began finding our way through the traffic. “Tell me something good that happened today at school,” I said, giving him a chance to decompress.

“I told Derrick about bad guys choosing bad stuff and how God’s going to fix everything when Jesus comes back.”

“Good for you. You’re a good friend for Derrick. What did he say about that?”

“He said he was glad God would make everything right some day so that the bad guys won’t win,” he explained. “But when I told him we were going to talk about tornados, he said to ask you about why kids get cancer, or why he has to take ADHD pills.”

“It sounds like Derrick’s worried about some things. Maybe he’d like to know God better and understand how much God can do. He might feel better.”

“Yeah, but why dokids get sick or hurt when nobody made bad choices?”

“You are right. Sometimes things go wrong with the weather,  our bodies, or even animals hurt people sometimes.  All those things are part of nature, and God made nature. So we want God to make nature always to be good to us. Right?”

“Yeah!  Why does God’s world go wrong sometimes?”

“Well, there are some answers that God doesn’t give us. God’s mind is so much stronger than ours that we’ll never be able to figure out everything He’s thinking. Maybe Satan uses nature to hurt us. Maybe the world got broken, too,  when Adam and Eve broke God’s heart. We don’t have all the answers. But there are some things we can know.”

“Like what?” he asked,  turning in his seat to face me.

“Well, as I said yesterday, we’re feeling the same way God does when we are sad for anyone that has trouble. It breaks his heart and ours when tornados or floods or fires hurt so many people. If there was no God, then all anyone could say is, “Too bad.  That’s just life. There is no hope.” And that would be sadder than anything else, I think.”  I waited to see if he understood the point I was making.

“So people that don’t believe in God aren’t sad about the bad stuff?” He was confused.

“People who don’t want God are still very sad about those tragedies. But they don’t understand that God gave them those feelings in the first place. They try to blame humans for making nature mess up. Sometimes they even blame God, and then they say they don’t believe in Him. And sometimes they stay sad forever.”

“Oh….” He was trying to understand. “That doesn’t make sense.”

“I know. God knows what suffering is like because Jesus was tortured and killed when He lived here. But Jesus figured out how to stop all the bad. Do you remember we talked about how God is going to fix everything when Jesus comes back again?”

“I sure do, and I’m glad!”

“The difference between us and the people who don’t want God is that they think that terrible tragedies will always happen and will never stop. They say people will die, and it’s all over.  That’s just more sadness, I think.”

“Me, too,” he mused.

“But God gives us three promises:  1) He will help us get through hard times, 2) Even if our bodies die, He will take care of our real Self  until Jesus comes again  and fixes our bodies, and 3) He’s going to make a new place where we are all together with Him–a new Heaven and New Earth. So we know that cancer, and sickness, mental troubles, tornados and all that will finally be over.”

Now he was quiet, looking out his window without seeing. Then  turning to me, he quietly said,  “I’m glad God is there.”

“Me, too,” I agreed. “And that He wants to help us.”

“And that He made ice cream!” he laughed. We’d arrived.

 

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children,  including the new bodies he has promised us.” Romans 8:18-23

Why Does God Let People Get Hurt?

My carpool week was turning out to be more than just giving a hand to an overwhelmed mom. It was becoming a Bible class on the road!

As I pulled into the driveway, my young friend charged out the front door ready for his day. I prayed for God’s wisdom and direction. I’d promised the boy an answer to a tough question.

“Hi Nannygranne!”  he called.

“Hello, fine sir!” I answered.

“Did God tell you the answer?” You have to love kids. They hold us accountable!

“Well, I listened to Him in His word and I prayed for wisdom. I also listened to other Christians who had thought about this question, too. So, I do have some things I can tell you.”

“Good!” he said. “I want to tell Derrick when I get to school.”

“Was Derrick wondering about why bad things happen to people, too?”

“Yes.  Derrick’s uncle is a police officer, and a bad guy shot him. He didn’t die, but Derrick had prayed for his uncle to be safe and God didn’t protect his uncle.”

“Why do you think the bad guy shot Derrick’s uncle?” I began

“Because he likes to do bad things,”

“Good answer.  So, the bad guy made a bad choice, right?”

His head swiveled my direction, and his blue eyes squinted. “Yeah, but why didn’t God stop him.  Derrick asked him to.”

“Well, if God stopped everyone from making bad choices, would that be fair?”

At the shrug of his shoulders, I saw that we were wading in too deeply for a 7-year-old’s mind.  I needed to toss him a life preserver, so I continued, “If God forced us all to only do those things He wants us to do, would that be fair?”

Still squinting, he ventured a guess, “No?”

“Would you want to be somebody’s robot and not be able to choose how you acted?”

Now he was beginning to understand. “Being a robot would be fun…but not all the time,” he admitted.

“If God lets you and me choose, then everyone else gets to choose, too. And there are always people who choose the wrong. And besides, maybe God did protect Derrick’s uncle since he was only hurt and not killed.”

“What if he’d been killed?” For a 7-year-old, his mind was uncannily quick.

“Then if he were God’s child, God would take him to His place and take care of him until Derrick got to go to God’s place, too.   His uncle’s Self would go to a different place.  He wouldn’t be gone. His Self would still be alive.  Only his body is buried for a while.  When Jesus comes back, He’ll make everybody’s body alive again, just like He came alive again.”

At that, he frowned and turned to look straight ahead.  There was more.  I thought I knew what that might be.

“And the bad guy would go to jail, and if he never stopped making bad choices, God would put him far away so he could never hurt anyone again.”

My young friend then offered me a smile of resignation.

“When bad things happen to anyone,” I said, “it makes God angry, too, and He knows it’s not fair. God hates bullying, drugs, terrorism, fighting, stealing and cheating. He hates those things because they hurt people.  And guess what!”

“What?!” he encouraged.

“The Bible says God made you in His image.  He made you like Him in some ways. That’s why you feel the same way God does about bad things. And you want it fixed, too, right?”

“I wish God would fix all that bad stuff!” he slammed his fist into his seat.

“Guess what else?”  I encouraged. “God will make everything right when Jesus comes again. So, don’t worry. God is going to make everything fair then.”

Now his head bobbed up and down thoughtfully. We’d arrived at the school.  He and Derrick would have a lot to talk about today.

He opened the door and started to get out, then stopped and turned back to me.

“What about that tornado?  Why did God let that happen?”

“You go ahead and go on in. We’ll talk more after school, OK? We’re going to need ice cream after school today.”

(To be continued)

Is God Mad at Me?

It was my day to pick up my neighbor boy from school.  He’d broken his arm over the weekend and had difficulty opening the door.  I reached across to the passenger side and opened the door, taking his backpack so he could climb in.

“Hey, my friend!  How was your day?”  Every kid’s favorite question.  We, adults, are so predictable. Kids, not so much.

“Did God get mad at me?” he huffed.  I immediately knew his day had been a little hard.

“Do you think God is mad at you?” I asked.

He looked down, then, not wanting me to see his chin tremble.  My heart broke for him, but I knew he needed to say what he had to say.  If I  tried too quickly to assure him,  I risked leaving him unsure of the answer.

“Why do I get hurt?  Is it a punishment from God?

“When you broke your arm, you thought God was letting you get hurt because he was angry with you, then?”

He looked up at me, tears in his eyes, and nodded, unable to speak.

“Did you do something you wish you hadn’t done?”

“Daddy told me not to climb on his ladder, but I did, and that’s why I broke my arm.  Daddy said he told me not to do that and he was mad when they had to take me to the emergency room.”

“My daddy used to get grumpy when he was scared about me, too.   Daddies want to fix things, and your Daddy couldn’t fix your arm.  So he got grumpy about that because he loves you.”  I wanted to get back to his question, so I continued.  “Do you think God made you break your arm?”

“I don’t know.  I didn’t mean to fall.”

“Do you know what an accident is?”

“A car wreck?” he guessed.

“An accident is something that happens, but nobody meant for it to happen.  I think you had an accident.  I don’t think anybody meant for that to happen to you.  It only happened because the ladder wasn’t safe for you to climb on.”

He frowned thoughtfully, then said, “Then I wasn’t being punished?”

“Well not by God and not even by your dad.  Punishment is supposed to help you remember to do the right thing next time.  But sometimes we learn from our own mistakes. Do you think you’ll climb on the ladder again without Daddy’s help?”

“No!  I won’t ever do that again!” he vowed with his most serious frown.

“Then I’d say the broken arm will help you remember to not climb on the ladder again without Daddy’s permission.  Your broken arm is what Daddy didn’t want to happen to you because he loves you so much.”

“But what about the homeless people, or the people at church that are sick and stuff?”  Now he looked at me challenging the idea that bad things always resulted from making mistakes.

“You know, you are right.  Sometimes bad things happen to people even though they didn’t do anything wrong to deserve it, and that’s always very hard to understand.  Even grownups ask that question, so you’re thinking very wisely.”

He sat a little taller and grinned.

“That’s a really big question, too.  Is it alright with you if I think about it and look at God’s word and pray for wisdom?  I’d rather answer that question tomorrow, if  you don’t mind.”

“Ok,” he said proudly.   “I don’t mind.”  He looked down the road now with a satisfied smile on his face.   He liked that he’d asked an important question and that an adult was going to have to do some hard thinking to answer it.

If only he knew.

(To be continued)

I Don’t Believe in Dad Anymore

(This week’s post is by guest blogger, David Roper.)

I used to believe I had a dad. In fact, when I was younger, I thought I could see him and thought I talked with him and he with me. But I’ve learned that’s just kid stuff.

You see, some time ago, my father moved away and I can’t see him anymore. Since that happened, I’ve been giving the matter a great deal of thought and I’ve decided I don’t really have a father.

Oh sure, I get letters that are supposed to be from him, but how do I know they are reallyfrom him? Someone could be forging his handwriting and the letter carriers are probably supporting the deception to protect their jobs. And the phone calls? Perhaps voice impressionists hired by the phone company.

What brought about this change of mind? I suppose it started when I met a man with a lot of degrees. He said nobodybelieves in fathers anymore. He told me that scientists are now convinced that fathers are not really necessary, that we can come into existence without them. As proof that there are no fathers, this very educated man cited the problems that many families have.

Well, that made me think. I started remembering that my dad didn’t always give me everything I wanted, even when he could. I especially remembered one time when I wanted something specific so very badly—and he said, “No.” I begged and I pleaded, my heart was breaking, and he still said, “No.” I ask you, who could believe in a father like that?

I admit I sometimes miss the comfort of believing I have a dad, but I guess that’s part of the pain of growing up. Really, I look with pity on those poor uninformed individuals who still believe they have fathers. No, I don’t believe in dad anymore.

*  *  * *  *  *

The above sounds silly, right? But I’ve heard the same reasoning from those who say they no longer believe in their heavenly Father. Just make a few substitutions, such as “preachers” for “letter carriers,” and you’ll see what I mean.

Can you no longer “see” your Father? Look around and above you. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). Would you know Him? Read the Bible, His “love letter” to you, which carries His imprint on every page. Has He ever said “No” to your prayers? Realize He still loves you and will ultimately cause “all things to work together for good to those who love” Him (Romans 8:28).

“There is . . . one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4, 6). “We had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9).