I stared at her. "What do you mean, sometimes?"
"Well," she answered, "there are times when bad things happen. I don't think He is good then."
I was speechless. How had this child of mine lived this long in my house and so misunderstood such a basic thing about God? Where had I gone wrong? She sounded like, well, like the world. Yikes. That night found us at Starbucks, hunkered down over a couple of frappucinos, discussing the nature of God and the nature of man.
God is sovereign over all creation, and He is good. If He were sovereign only, He'd be a despot. If He were good only, He'd be a weakling. Man is totally depraved in his own sin inherited from Adam. That complete immersion in sin renders him incapable of even asking for help without the prompting of the Holy Spirit. That's what the Bible teaches. So that's what we teach at home. Is it any wonder I stared at my daughter, aghast that she somehow thought she was less sinful than Nebuchudnezzar?
"Do you mean to tell me that you think you're good without God?" I asked her.
She confidently replied, "Well, I'm better than Nebuchudnezzar."
"No, dear, you're not better than Nebuchudnezzar. Neither am I. We are all hopeless without God regenerating us."
"Well, God sent him off to the wilderness to live like a wild man because of what he did," she batted back.
"Yes," I said, "and if you read to the end of the account, you'll see that he finally acknowledged that God was God, and he was not. And when God got his attention, he saw the truth. And you wouldn't see the truth without God revealing it to you, either."
We had a good conversation that night. We talked about original sin, depravity, election. We talked about God's sovereignty and why he allows bad things to happen. We talked about the goodness of God and the sinfulness of sin. But, in the end, my seven-year-old had a seven-year-old's faith.
She turned 8 this past week. And she is growing in her understanding of the Creator/Redeemer, just as surely as she is growing physically. She's growing an eight-year-old faith. That's right where she should be.
The tragedy is when an adult has a seven-year-old faith, when adults stomp their feet because life isn't turning out the way they thought it should, because life is hard, or because life hurts. The tragedy is when adults think God lets bad things happen to good people, though the real puzzler is why good things happen to bad people. The tragedy is when adults think they can be even a little bit good, even do a little bit to please God, even ask God for a little bit of redemption by themselves without the Holy Spirit.
Life's not fair. That's one of the first hard lessons every child learns. And attempting to impugn God's character by saying it's not fair that He predestines most for hell is wrong and immature. It is completely fair to separate sinful man from a Holy God. It is unfair that any of us get to go to Heaven at all. It's not unfair that the Atonement is limited; it's unfair that there is an Atonement at all.
It's okay, even good, for a seven-year-old to have a seven-year-old faith. But for an adult, it's tragic.