Today at lunch, my seven-year-old summed it up neatly. “Is the virus going to last forever?” she asked.
I took a few meditative bites of leftover tandoori before I answered. “No,” I said. “It won’t. I don’t know how long it will last, but it won’t last forever.” Meaning: eventually Jesus will come back. The pandemic will definitely be over by then.
But this has been a grueling year for parenting, hasn’t it? Aspects of it have been pleasant: I’ve loved (most of) the increased time together and the new ways we’ve found to spend it—making killer calzones, for example. Or training our puppy not to bite us. I’ve even appreciated the chance to walk through something difficult with my daughters and to show them that our faith has a strong and sure foundation.
But at times, I am tired. So often, I don’t have answers. The longer this pandemic goes on, the more weary I feel, and the more acutely I feel my inadequacy. I am their mother, one of the first two people they come to with questions. But I know better now that I am not the Keeper of Answers or the Fixer of All Things. I am just a woman who is also their mom—a fallen being in need of grace, too.
What to do when the news looks bleak yet again and we all groan, How long? Or when our kids come to us with weighty, legitimate questions, hoping that we will give them honest answers? In those moments, I like to take a cue from Chris Morphew, an author and school chaplain who doesn’t just answer those questions but who writes whole books about them.
Each of the short chapter books in his Big Questions series tackles a tough topic: a really tough topic. How Do We Know Christianity is True?, for example. Or Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen? And he doesn’t condescend to kids as he writes. His examples of “bad things” aren’t “I didn’t make the soccer team” laments that any kid going through a pandemic could sneeze at. No, he admits what many of us don’t like to: hard things happen, and they often happen to kids.
But he doesn’t stop there, and that’s key. He reminds kids, too, that God sees them and he does have a plan, even though it often sprawls far beyond our comfort zone and asks way more of us than we think we can give. He reminds readers that Christianity gives us satisfying answers to some of life’s hardest questions, and it also gives us the freedom when we need it to say humbly, “I don’t know.” It gives us the consolation that, hey, Somebody knows. And he doesn’t make mistakes.
All three of these books have been great conversation starters at our house, as well as a balm for my occasional fatigue—a reminder, I guess, that these questions do have answers, even though I don’t always have the answers handy. And that, at any age, it’s okay to ask big questions.
This post first appeared on littlebookbigstory.com