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One of my favorite memories from my son's AWANA days occurred when he was just a 3 1/2 year old "Cubbie." His teacher, Miss Trina, was recounting the story of how sin was introduced into the world with Adam and Eve.
"But the GOOD news," she said, wrapping up. "Is that Jesus died for our sins so we can be forgiven and live forever with him."
Without missing a beat, my son asked, "So, what's the bad news?" He just knew the other shoe had to drop. The adults in the room enjoyed a long laugh.
But the reality is that there is bad news. Sin was brought into the world, and with it, pain, suffering and death. As a dad, the challenging question we have to address for our kids isn't "what's the bad news?" It's really: Why does God allow pain and suffering in the first place?
This is one of the thorny questions my friend Alex McFarland unpacks in his latest book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity. When your kids ask this question, whether they realize it or not, they are actually acknowledging that there is a standard for good and evil. And that standard is God, who created everything to be 'good' (Genesis 1:31) and shares our same yearning for a world without suffering.
"We are in the process of redemption," McFarland writes. "And one day we'll understand that the scars we've accumulated along the journey—painful and perplexing as they seemed at the time—were worth it."
Tuesday, September 24, there is an in-theater event hosted by actor Kirk Cameron, where he shares his journey of discovery about questions on human suffering. The film, Unstoppable, is his personal look at why bad things happen to good people ... and God's unstoppable purpose of redeeming those difficult things in our lives.
The film, and Alex's book, both offer insight for us to confidently navigate our children’s challenging questions on pain and suffering.
Whether my son realized it or not at age three, there is "bad news" in the here and now. But the promise of Revelation 21:4 is that God will wipe away every tear, and "there will be no more death or mourning, or crying or pain" once we leave this fallen world as believers. Miss Trina had it right ... that is GOOD news.
Rich Bennett (@coloradorich) is a contributor for Dad Matters and the Vice President of Ministry & Marketing Strategy for Focus on the Family.
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