Bible Reading with Kids—Extremely Hard to Digest
Last weekend my reader Yve sent me the email below which deeply resonated with my own experience of Bible reading with my children:
My challenge with my older kids with regards to the Bible is that they found it hard to understand God’s sovereignty in everything. Like when they read in Exodus where God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, or when they read how God flooded the world in the story of Noah’s ark etc. They find it extremely hard to digest, and the last thing that I would like to see is that they would view God as being cruel.
So there it goes! 🙂 I will continue to let you know along the way what challenges I face when I study the Bible with my kids!
And here you have my answer—hope it helps!
Your kids find extremely hard to digest some passages of the Bible? Welcome to the Club. You are not alone! My kids are obsessed with the death of all the firstborn in Egypt:
“At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well.” (Exodus 12:29)
Let me say first that God sees death very differently than we. Death is like a curtain where God is waiting for us behind, so the best of our existence is on the other side. Seen this way, the death of the firstborn in Egypt does not seem cruel at all, doesn’t it?
But back to your question, and let me make it even more difficult, look at this: God cannot do evil, and his deeds are only for our most good, because “God is love” (1 John 4:16). It means that the flood which destroyed the whole humanity, except a family, that big “reset” of the world, was the best that God could do for us, and the deed more full of holy love he could offer to the world at that time. And keep in mind that death is not the last word for God.
Are we able to understand it? We probably cannot, because our vision is limited and temporal.
God sees everything from outside the limits of time because he created time! We watch the history of the world or our own life like a movie, but God sees it like a picture where all the moments are shown together and are interlinked.
When we’ll die, we shall have tons of questions to ask God, like your kid’s questions about God’s interventions in the history, or about many evil facts which happened in our life: why he permitted the death of a young friend or relative, or those times of poorness, abuse, depression…
But God, before letting us to ask him questions, will let us enter, only with him, in a small room with just a picture, a extremely fine picture with the whole story of our life. The picture will contain all our deeds and all the things which happened to us: the good and the evil, the joy and the sadness, the fullness and the frustration, the health and the illness, the doubts and the certainties. And suddenly, watching that picture, we shall understand! We shall understand how every time God permitted evil in our life he did it for a better good. And then, freed of our questions and doubts, we shall laugh. And it will be a laugh full of joy which will free us of all our troubles and worries.
“I will see you again, and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything.” (John 16:22-23)
We’ll know then how God has been present in every single moment of our life, leading his plan for each of us in the better way—in the most loving way like a loving father who cares for every step of his toddler.
“For I know the plans I have for you, ”declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Afterward, God will lead us to a huge room full of people who will be watching a big picture. This will be the picture of the complete history of humanity, where we’ll finally understand why he flooded the world, why did he harden the heart of the Pharaoh, why did he strike down all the firstborn in Egypt and why did he permit us to kill his Son. And contemplating this picture we’ll not laugh any more, and then we’ll sing. With all the other people gathered in that endless room we shall sing a song of appreciation and happiness and praise, and this song will last forever.
Well, my brothers and sisters, don’t take my words literally, that’s not the Bible; it’s just my symbolic way to answer your concerns which I’m not able to express otherwise. My mentor, teacher, brother and Lord taught me with parables, you know, and I just try, with my unclean lips, to imitate his perfection.
Peace and joy,