I attended a funeral in which a son of the deceased said: “My four-year-old son asked me, ‘Why did God make Grandpa Bob die?’ I told him, ‘God wanted someone to play basketball with.’”
I cringed when I heard this father’s explanation. I could just imagine what the little 4-year-old thought: “Oh, but I wanted to play basketball with Grandpa too! But mean old God took him away.” Maybe he also thought, “I don’t think I like this God very much.”
We have to be careful how we answer questions about God and death, especially for young children who don’t yet understand abstract concepts.
So what could the father have said when his little son asked, “Why did God make Grandpa die?” He could have responded honestly, “I don’t know.” Maybe adding, “However, I do believe that God really loves you, me, Grandpa and each person everywhere.”
When you really do not know the answer to a child’s question or anyone’s question, give a simple and straightforward honest answer like: “I don’t know.” Sometimes it is helpful to answer questions about God with, “No one knows for sure but I believe. . .” Another response might be, “You know, I wonder about that too.”
We don’t have to have all the answers. Practice saying, “I don’t know.”