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An Ultimate Question: Will God Protect My Kids? (by Brant Hansen)

Eric's Note: Brant Hansen is the host of the Christian radio program "Mornings With Brant," which, unlike some other Christian radio programs, includes irony, accordion playing, and actually talking about Jesus. This recent post from his blog falls into the latter category. For those of us who are overly familiar with Patriocentricity or other systems of doctrine that exalt "biblical family values," this is a bracing, blistering, and devastatingly comforting reminder of what faith is really about. Brant's blog, which I enthusiastically recommend, can be found appropriately enough at Brant's Blog. Many thanks to Brant for his kind permission to reprint this article here. (Source)


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My dog growled last night and I thought of this question and decided I'd ask you.. My husband travels a lot (like 2 weeks a month) and so I am home alone with my two babies, my dog, and my two cats, and all the scary noises and shadows that make you wonder how safe you really are.. I normally follow my dog's lead when I get worried as his hearing is better and he is very protective of us.. I read a prayer book to my babies at night (just a collection of prayers) and a couple of them contain "Protect my family", "watch over us", etc.. but here's my hiccup.. God lets bad things (horrible things) happen to good people.. to HIS people.. People are raped and murdered every day so how is trusting God to keep us safe supposed to happen?? Yeah, Daniel may have walked through a den of lions unscathed, but I'd be willing to bet Stephen felt every stone that was thrown at him.. So how do we sleep at night knowing the world is full of evil and that sometimes (a lot of times) that evil hurts good people?? Just wondering what your thoughts are on this topic..


Amy



Amy,


Okay, here are my thoughts, such as they are. And I hope you don't mind the picture at left. I have no idea who that is. I just like putting pictures next to blog entries. Thank you. But back to the question, and I think a LOT of people are asking it, even if not out loud:


As a dad, I think the answer to this is scary.


And this may not be true for you, it may not be exactly YOUR inner conversation, but the conversation can go something like this:


Honest question: If I am a good Christian, and have faith and stuff, will God protect my children?


Honest answer: He might. Or He might not.


Honest follow-up question: So what good is He?


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I think the answer is that He’s still good. But our safety, and the safety of our kids isn’t part of the deal. This is incredibly hard to accept on the American evangelical church scene, because we love families, and we love loving families, and we associate Godliness, itself, with cherishing family beyond any other earthly thing.


That someone would even challenge this bond, the primacy of the family bond, is offensive. And yet...


Jesus did it. And it was even MORE offensive, then, in a culture that wasn’t nearly so individualistic as ours. Everything was based on family: Your reputation, your status -- everything. And yet He challenges the idea my attachment to family is so important, so noble, that it is synonymous with our love for Him.


Which leads to some other spare thoughts...


We can make idols out of our families.


Again, in a “Focus on the Family” subculture, it’s hard to imagine how this could be. Families are good.


But idols aren’t made of bad things. They used to be fashioned out of trees or stone, and those aren’t bad, either. Idols aren’t bad things, they’re good things, made Ultimate.


We make things Ultimate when we see the true God as a route to these things, or a guarantor of them. It sounds like heresy, but it’s not: The very safety of our family can become an idol.


God wants us to want Him for Him, not merely for what He can provide.


As wonderful as “mother love” is, we have to make sure it doesn’t become twisted.


And it can. It can become a be-all, end-all, the very focus of a woman’s existence. C.S. Lewis writes that it’s especially dangerous, because it seems so very, very righteous. Who can possibly challenge a mother’s love?


God can, and does, when it becomes an Ultimate. And it’s more likely to become a disordered Ultimate than many other things, simply because it does seem so very righteous. Lewis says this happens with patriotism, too.


Mother-love, even when disordered, and placed before a desire for God Himself, always looks perfectly justified. And that’s why it’s deadly.


Children are truly gifts from the Lord. And, still, God wants us to want Him for Him, not His gifts.


This is the whole point of “trust”.


We say “I trust Jesus”, or “Trust in the Lord, and...” and all that stuff. But here’s where the words actually mean something.


What if... the worst happens? Do you still trust Him? Do you believe it’s really the end of the story, if it does happen? Isn’t that the point of trust, itself, is that you’re stepping into mystery?


Job is the classic example. He had no idea what was going on, and he was left with only one thing: His trust in God, Himself. He did not know the big picture, and yet he believed... there has to be a picture, here, and it’s one that I can’t see. As we know from the story, he was right. There was a backstory, he just didn’t know what it was.


Do we really believe that God is good, and will ultimately set things right? The real “trust” comes, I’m afraid, when what we think is “right” in our present reality doesn’t happen.


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Not long ago, my wife and I visited the mom and dad of a little girl who was the victim of an unspeakably horrible crime. A relative was in their home for Thanksgiving, and went on a shooting spree, concluding with deliberately taking the girl’s life while she slept in her bed.


We sat in the little girl’s room, days after the shooting. The dad sat on her bed, and pulled down a beautiful, embroidered picture that was on the wall above it. He was crying, and pulled down the picture, and showed the back of it to us.


He still thinks God is good. Somehow.


“I feel like we’re only seeing this part right now, where it looks like chaos,” he said. “But someday we’ll see the front, where the stitches make more sense, and it will be beautiful. It doesn’t make sense, but I have to trust God.”


There are those who would say he’s naive, but I think this is the very essence of trust, and the whole point of it.


We see dimly now, and we know in part now, but we will someday see it all. This is trust.


And one last, radical thought:


By becoming a Christian, we say we are giving our lives to Christ. If that’s true -- if we’ve given our lives to Christ -- we’ve given it all. Everything.


And if that’s true, it includes -- and boy, is this tough to say, as a dad -- it includes our very children. They’re His.


No one can take anything, or anyone from His grip. They can take from ours, but not His.


So watch them sleep, and thank God for them, and know that they’re on loan. He loves them, more than you, even. And whatever happens, He’s got the big picture, we don’t.


That is trust.


Not sure if that helps... but those are some thoughts, for what they're worth...


Best,

Brant

6 comments:

  1. This is such a tough thing to grasp for me as a Mom. I agree it is because I see dimly right now. I love the concept that our children are own loan that HE loves them even more than us parents. But, even knowing God's deep and perfect love and my flawed parental love, I still struggle with trust in this area.

    Like Brant said I'm sure I'm impacted by American Christian culture.

    Thanks for posting this!

    ~ Ali

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  2. This brings to mind part of the devotional I read this morning--from the updated edition [today's language] of Oswald Chambers UTMOST (for March 24)
    "We are indeed amateurs, coming in and preventing God's will and saying 'this person should not experience this difficulty' Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, our sympathy gets in the way."

    In other words, Don't try to prevent things...... This has stayed with me since early morning, for like the lady in the post, I'm home alone with my kids and animals at night. It IS scary and I do pray for our safety and try to trust......If we are sincere believers we know that God uses everything for His purpose. Our children are His too and some days that's hard to acknowledge because we love them so much.

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  3. I've gone through those moments of fear. the "what if" questions when it comes to trusting God with everything about our children. I have had tremendous moments with God for each of my children and those days I gave them to him utterly...completely. No matter how much sheltering we provide for our children, they have a path to walk, a race to run and we can't protect them from everything. We all have had our tough times in life that built our faith in God and if we restrict our children from having the same opportunities to learn to trust God then we are usurping God's authority over them and He WILL take them down whatever path He has for them no matter what we do. The fires of life is what refines us in this walkabout with God.

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  4. Maybe I did not read this well enough but I did not get his point. Evil things happen to kids and families not becase it is God's will but because we live in a fallen world and God is not the magical fix all He is made out to be. Magical thinking really keeps people going--God blessed me, God protected me while the poor guy next to you is left in the lurch.

    Yes I do believe God is there to get us through the rough times but I have no answer for why He chooses not to act in situations He could--especially the heinous abuse or murdering of children. Is God more likey to protect our children when we pray and ask? No actually I don't think God is that cruel to make decision like that--ha they did not pray today--well off with their child!!

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  5. Beth-- Actually, it sounds to me like you got his point very well. :-)

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  6. I appreciate this post. It is a tough subject...one that Dave and I have wrestled with many times. Ultimately, for us, it is all about trust. We choose to trust Yahweh in everything, even when we don't understand what is going on.

    We are told to trust like a child. Children who are not abused tend to be very trusting, which is why they are so vulnerable to predators. We need to trust our heavenly Abba completely in all things.

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