How to deal with your child’s curiosity about knowing the existence of a God

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Nathaniel and his mom waved at the image of a crucified Jesus inside the Basilica del Santo Nino Church in Cebu City, Philippines.

Young children are naturally curious. They want to know just about anything and that’s fine. But what if your child asks you something you don’t quite expect a young mind would come up with? Like, for example, your child is asking you on whether God exists or not.

How are you going to explain it to your child? Of course, you would be saying “yes, God exists.” But what if your child is not totally convince yet and, instead, wants you to explain further by asking: “If God exists, why does he allow suffering?”

I think it’s best to tell your child what you know about it, to the best of your ability, even if he or she may never come to understand it yet. But what if there’s no God? Would this affect the kind of parenting you’re now introducing to your child?

And if somebody’s going to ask you the same question, what should your answer be? If God exists, why does he allow suffering? You may try to reflect at my answer to such a question below, thus enjoy reading:

I have long ago dismissed the argument about whether God existed or not. I have read lots of atheistic writings from vocal and famous atheists and existentialists and the more that I read and internalized their works, the more I was plunged into the light of truth which further cemented my belief in a deity.

Back in college, a colleague of mine was trying to convince me, even to the point of lecturing me, about his newfound philosophy based upon the books he read. He quoted something from German philosopher Nietzsche’s existentialist book titled Thus Spoke Zarathustra, saying: “God is dead.” Having read about Marx’s stand on atheism, I simply told him that his claim was weak because to say that “God is dead” meaning to say he came to exist, although he’s dead.

I even instructed my colleague by saying: “This is how you should say it: ‘God did not exist.'” Of course, I lied to him, because deep in my heart I know there is God.

But, if God exists, why does he allow suffering? Is it wrong to ask why God allows all the troubles and sufferings in the world? The prophet Habakkuk had one time asked God: “Why do you make me witness wrongdoing? And why do you tolerate oppression? Why are destruction and violence before me? And why do quarreling and conflict abound?” (Habakkuk 1:3.)

But do we really have to blame God for all the suffering in the world? The Bible has the answer as it clearly states in 1st John chapter five, verse nineteen: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”

This world was dominated and reflects the personality of the invisible spirit creature who is “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation chapter twelve, verse nine.) Satan is hateful, deceptive, and cruel. So the world, under his influence, is full of hatred, deceit, and cruelty. That is one reason why there is so much suffering.

It was very interesting how God handled rebellion in heaven long time ago. When Lucifer rebelled against God, and wanted to be like God, he allowed him to become how it would be like.

And when Satan, the Great Evil Beast, together with his minions, was cast down to the earth, and with the Fall of Man in Eden, God has allowed him to show how he would rule mankind. God has also allowed humans to govern themselves under Satan’s guidance.

But why has the Almighty Father allowed suffering to continue for so long and why has He not prevented such things as horrible crimes?

God has not helped Satan to rule this world. If God were to prevent horrible crimes, for instance, would he not, in effect, be supporting the case of the rebels? Would God not be making people think that perhaps humans can govern themselves without disastrous results? If God were to act in that way, he would become party to a lie. However, “it is impossible for God to lie.” (Hebrews 6:18.)

So what would God do about all the harm that has resulted from the rule of humans and the influence of Satan?

The effects of sin would be removed through faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, and the effects of death would be reversed by means of the resurrection. God would so use Jesus, as what the Bible has told in 1st John chapter three, verse eight: “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”

God would bring all of this about at just the right time. We can be glad that he has not acted sooner, for his patience, as could be read in 2nd Peter chapter three, verses nine to ten, has given us the opportunity to learn the truth and to serve him.

For the time being, to quote from the book of John chapter four, verse twenty-three, God has been actively seeking sincere worshipers and helping them to endure any suffering that may come upon them in this troubled world.

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The importance of introducing spiritual training in the home

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My four-year-old son, Nathaniel, in one of his somber-looking poses before the camera.

According to child experts, the first five to seven years of a child’s life is crucial to the attitudes he or she may develop, which could become almost permanent. Parents should need to be aware of the fact that when the opportunities of these early years are missed, they’re gone forever. Hence, if you want your son or daughter to possess all the qualities of a good, well-mannered child, you should be making these (good) characteristics the conscious objectives of your early teaching.

Contrary to other people’s belief, heredity does not equip a child with character and that the parents couldn’t be expecting character to appear magically unless they have done their homework early.

START BY MAKING AN EARLY BEGINNING

Don’t you know about how a duck came to be? After a young duckling hatches from its shell, the duckling instinctively would be attaching itself to its mom, but if the mom is removed, it would settle for any moving object. A group of researchers revealed that, in fact, the duckling would most easily bond itself to a blue football bladder that’s being dragged in front of it on a string.

A week after this process started, it would fall behind the blue bladder whenever it scoots by. To whatever extent or degree, time is the crucial factor. It must be noted that the duckling is susceptible to bonding for only a few seconds after it was hatched from its shell. Therefore, if such a precious opportunity for imprinting is lost, it couldn’t be taken back later.

In the same way that a youngster between one and seven years of age is most susceptible to religious training, so that his or her of right and wrong is formed during this time as well as his or her ideas of God take shape. And just like the duckling, the opportunity of such a time period must be seized when the child is ready, not when the parents are ready.

But yet, unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When you’re depriving a child of spiritual training, or subjecting him or her to the misapplication of it, you’re severely limiting his or her capacity in reaching spiritual maturity. Don’t wait until your child is old enough to decide for himself if he or she wants religion, you had almost guaranteed that he or she would be deciding against it.

TEACH, BUT NOT IN THE WAY WHICH MAKES IT SOUND LIKE YOU’RE PREACHING

It is but normal for every child to ask questions, lots of questions, from his or her earliest years. Consider such times as an opportunity for you teach, to instruct, and to fill your child’s young mind with the very best character-building material available.

You could do it by reading stories, most particularly love stories. There are two advantages when you read character-building stories to your child. When you answer your child’s questions from good books, you’re teaching without preaching. That’s one thing. Now, here’s the other one: by doing so, you have given your child time and companionship. Remember, nothing spells love more than your personal in his thoughts and questions.

A many religious teachings may hold little meaning for a child during his or her early childhood and primary school years, that’s why it is of the utmost importance for parents to learn to translate these religious concepts into terms that their kids could understand.

WORSHIP TOGETHER AS A FAMILY

Try setting up a regular time for family devotions and make no exceptions unless absolutely necessary. You should be deciding upon a time, either morning or evening or both, and create the habit regardless of who is in your home. Study the Bible and read through its pages. Make the Bible interesting to your child. Go to church and worship together as a family.

Character is an engraving, as what the ancient Greeks come to define it. The kind of permanent inscription you would like to be deeply etched into the very heart and soul of your child is all up to you.

Help your child build confidence in his or her talking with God

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I always encouraged my son to pray in his own words.

Last night, I noticed that my little boy forgot to say his prayer in bed. Or maybe it was intentional and that he doesn’t like to be praying anymore. So I asked him why he’s not praying.

He said he was tired. I was thinking he was just not in a mood to pray or maybe finding it to be boring for that particular moment. I always encouraged my son to pray in his own words.

I let him stay in bed and not force him to get up to pray. And when it’s time for me to talk to God, he gets up to join me in prayer. I know he’s learning the importance of prayer by seeing or hearing me or his mom pray.

My son’s prayer was simple. He would be mentioning names starting with me, his mom, grandpa, grandma, uncles, aunts, cousins, and even his friends and playmates. Sometimes, a neighbor would be included.

After mentioning names in a prayer asking God to protect them and give them good health, he would then ask God to give him food, milk, juice, and all the things he wished to have. He always closed his prayer with a thanksgiving.

I couldn’t help myself but to smile in the way he prays. It was simple, specific, very honest, on the spot, and direct to the point prayer. I see to it that when he prays, I was giving him the freedom to talk to God and that he could also see us praying. I think that’s where his confidence should grow.

To pray is to simply be with God and to talk to Him. A child needs to know early in his or her life that he or she could talk to a God just like when he or she is talking to Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle, or a friend. He or she needs to understand that God is out there willing to listen to what he or she has to say.

Talking about prayers, I came across a prayer written by Stephen Vincent Benet.  It was a prayer for freedom and for peace titled “A Prayer For United Nations.”

Stephen Vincent Benet (1898-1943) is an American poet, novelist and short-story writer, interested in fantasy and American themes. His best-known works are John Brown’s Body and a short story called “The Devil and Daniel Webster.”

“A Prayer for United Nations” was read by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the nation on June 14, 1942. Read it to find out what the United Nations were praying for in 1942 and how it’s still as relevant as to this day:

God of the free, we pledge our hearts and lives today to the cause of all free mankind.

Grants us victory over the tyrants who would enslave all free men and nations. Grant us faith and understanding to cherish all those who fight for freedom as if they were our brothers. Grant us brotherhood in hope and union, not only for the space of this bitter war, but for the days to come which shall and must unite all the children of earth.

Our earth is but a small star in the great universe. Yet of it we can make, if we choose, a planet unvexed by war, untroubled by hunger or fear, undivided by senseless distinctions of race, color, or theory. Grant us the courage and foreseeing to begin this task today that our children and our children’s children may be proud of the name of man.

The spirit of man has awakened and the soul of man has gone forth. Grant us the wisdom and the vision to comprehend the greatness of man’s spirit that suffers and endures so hugely for a goal beyond his own brief span. Grant us honor for our dead who died in the faith, redemption and security for all captive lands and peoples. Grant us patience with the deluded and pity for the betrayed. And grant us the skill and the valor that shall cleanse the world of oppression and the old base doctrine that the strong must eat the weak because they are strong.

Yet most of all, grant us brotherhood, not only for this day but for all our years—a brotherhood not of words but of acts and deeds. We are all of us children of earth—grant us that simple knowledge. If our brothers are oppressed, then we are oppressed. If they hunger, we hunger. If their freedom is taken away, our freedom is not secure. Grant us a common faith that man shall know bread and peace—that he shall know justice, righteousness, freedom and security, an equal opportunity and an equal chance to do his best, not only in our own lands, but throughout the world. And in that faith let us march toward the clean world our hands can make. Amen.

Timeless parenting tips from the Book of Proverbs

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The Book of Proverbs.

The Holy Bible’s Book of Proverbs is filled with parenting tips every parent could learn a lot from. Parents could draw out principles from the book to help them achieve something, and for what successful parenting is all about. The following are some of the child-rearing principles taken from the Proverbs:

PROVERBS CHAPTER 22 VERSE 6

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This verse is perhaps one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. It could be interpreted in a lot of ways, but yet it all boils down to one important thing for us to ponder: it talks about a child’s way or what we should be calling as his or her bent or inclination.

God created each child to be as unique a person as he or she could be. Yes, He wants it that way. God loves variety and uniqueness as evident in the way He created things.

As parents, we need to know our child’s bent or inclination. It was important because if we parents have no idea what our child’s bent is, there’s no way we could also tailor our instruction which we sure want to be most effective with each child. So it’s best for parents to know each of their children very well.

We have to teach our kids the Truth which is the Lord’s in a way they’re learning it best. Once it has to be the case with our son or daughter, then it would stay with him or her for as long as he or she lives.

PROVERBS CHAPTER 1 VERSES 2 TO 3

“To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing.” It should be understood that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding. Once this kind understanding is acquired, everything else would fall in the right place.

We should be our children’s model for fearing God in the first place. It is through such a way that all education begins where we could teach them how to know and fear the Lord. We must reverence God in our home, and making sure they could see a living example of what it’s like to honor God in words and actions.

The importance of instilling a passion for worship early into your child’s life

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Nathaniel kneels down to pray inside Basilica del Sto Nino de Cebu church.

The first five years of your child’s life are very crucial years for his learning. Whatever he will learn during this stage of his development will become the foundation of the attitude he will be carrying throughout his lifetime. So if you want your child to become God-fearing when he grows up, or obedient, honest, faithful, kind, unselfish, and helpful to others, you have to start it early.

Here are few of which I can share to you, from personal experience, about the importance of instilling a passion for worship early into your child’s life:

YOU MUST EXEMPLIFY THEM FIRST IN YOUR OWN

Before my son turned three years old he already know how to make the sign of the cross. I never taught him how to but he just learned from simply observing us. I and my wife make sure we have one day of the week spared for attending the church mass and that often falls on a Sunday.

On working days, if we still can make it, we would have found time at the church spending a few minutes praying. Nathaniel would imitate us kneeling before the church’s altar like an adult one.

READ YOUR CHILD BIBLE STORIES OR FROM OTHER GOOD BOOKS FOR CHILDREN

There are times when Nathaniel becomes so curious that he would ask so many questions for everything he wants to know. And when it comes to the point when the name of Jesus Christ was tackled, I read him a chapter in Bible about the life story of Jesus. I noticed that by doing so, I gained two things: One, I have answered his question and number two, I have given him time and companionship.

MAKE IT A HABIT AND BE CONSISTENT

From waking up in the morning, eating breakfast, and to the time he goes down to sleep at night, make it a habit that he saw you praying. Once he gets interested in what you’re doing, this time teach him the proper way on how to do it.

Be consistent and make sure you’re shaping his understanding of God in a positive way through your influence. Instilling a passion for worship early into your child’s life is important. You don’t have to be perfect at all though to gain or maintain your child’s respect.