"How could God be just when he's going to send Satan to Hell without giving him a chance to repent?"
"Was God just to Jesus by sending him to die for us instead of coming himself?"
"How were people saved before Jesus came?"
I run a Bright Lights girls' Bible study in my house, and the above are just a sample of the questions the girls bring to our meetings. We could be talking about how to have a good relationship with siblings, or gratefulness, or daily spiritual disciplines, and inevitably a hand will go up and out will come a question that first of all stuns me with its theological depth, and second, sends me right back to Jesus for some kind of answer.
Let it be known that young teen girls are capable of deep thought. They watch the world around them; they see the sin in their culture, in themselves, and in other people; they read the same Bible passages that older adults spend hours wrestling over. And they're not afraid to ask for the knowledge they need.
But these questions start before teenage years as well. While I don't have much contact with young children, I can guess with a little intuition that some of the theological questions 4-8 year olds ask make parents bite their nails with worry. What do you say when your six-year-old asks what a homosexual is? (And in today's culture, have no doubt, they'll be asking.) Do you talk about the possibility of sexual abuse and how to avoid it, or don't you? What about when their grandma dies, or their big sister, or their daddy? And an ongoing debate, which stories do you read them from the Bible, and which do you avoid?
Ministry, friendship, parenting is a weighty responsibility--and if you've ever been in a situation where you've been asked a question you don't know how to answer, I have a book for you. :) It's short, clear, simple--the perfect quick read. I read it in four days, and at this stage of my life, that's a bonus.
The content is amazing.
Here are the topics she covers:
1. What is Sin?
2. Why Do People Die?
3. Who is Satan? What is Hell? (and demons, etc.)
4. Why Do People Get Divorced?
5. Why Does the Bible Say That? Difficult Bible Stories
6. Why and How Do Some People Sin Sexually? (pornography, homosexuality, and sexual abuse)
*special note: this chapter is gently written, and not inappropriately graphic or explicit. It has information that preschool-11 would be able to handle.
7. Why Does God Let Natural Disasters Happen?
8. Why Do People Fight and Kill?
Full of practical wisdom, this book equips parents not to fear the day when such topics will come up, but to use them to point their kids to an all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving Jesus, who can sympathize with temptation and pain, and turn all things to our good and God's glory.
While Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions is geared towards parents helping their kids, the advice is applicable for ministry leaders, older siblings, aunts and uncles, and any responsible adult with little people in their care. Nor (in case any of my Bright Lights girls are reading this. :) are the answers only for 11 and under. Questions about sin, tragedy, God's goodness, Satan, and other hard topics are ones that young men and women and adults wrestle with as well. It's just, we start wondering at young ages and never stop.
As I read this book, I felt lovingly and gently guided. This book feels like a warm blanket and a cup of chicken soup--yet at the same time, it's not wishy-washy or shallow. It's deep and true, but simple and manageable. Jessica often stresses that we need to remind children we are sinners (it is our nature, not just our actions) and God is Savior (able to save us from our sinful being and our sinful ways). In stressing that, she's not condemnatory, but constantly points to a God who loves us all the time, and whose kindness is vast and unsearchable.
It answered a lot of my own questions. And it's a wise book to read for anyone who's trying to find answers for themselves on these topics, as well as to answer the questions of others. The multitude of Scripture references offers rich support to Jessica's words, and I highly encourage having a Bible handy as you read.
I've already put this book to practical use, and look forward to doing so even more in the future. Elyse and Jessica are a wise and loving mother/daughter duo who have written a real gem.
I hope I'll be able to use it with my own kids someday.
*I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
P.S. The Book Reviews tab has been updated this week--and I hope to update the Articles tab in the near future as well. :)