I had an interesting teaching moment with my children the other day and thought I would record it on my wife's blog. I felt I needed to explain to them something essential to understanding the nature of life and God and an opportunity presented itself. I wasn't exactly sure how they would take it and how much they would truly understand.
For background, a few months ago we found out that a family in our ward/congregation was pregnant with a baby boy. That baby, it was found, had medical problems in utero and there was at least some risk to his chances of survival after birth. We told our girls to pray for the baby and they prayed for him faithfully in our family prayers. We fasted for their family, hoped for a miracle and continued to pray for the family over a month or two. It was beautiful to hear the innocent faith of our girls as they prayed for the Gubler baby (and even funny to hear Lauren to pray for the "goog-a-ler baby." Last week, we found out that the mom gave birth to a baby boy (Dax Gubler), who lived for 12 hours and then passed away. Our hearts ached for them and we remembered our pains suffered in the confines of a sterile hospital.
Now to the conversation: we gathered around and Stephanie and I explained to the girls what happened to the Gubler's baby. I then explained that sometimes we pray with faith and ask for something but God does not give it to us. Sometimes He has a different plan. Sometimes we ask for a miracle but He has a different plan. I asked the girls, "should we be angry?" "No," came the response. "Do we stop believing in Him?" "No."
Stephanie talked about the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane saying, "if it is possible, let this cup pass from me." In other words, Jesus wanted to know if there was some way for Him NOT to suffer. Yet He said, "nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." He ultimately said, even though this is what I want I will bend what I want to what YOU want.
We talked about how we prayed for Camille and yet God had a different plan. We prayed for this baby, but God had a different plan. Some times, God has something special in mind that is different from our desires. My girls, somewhat surprisingly, were very understanding. They had no qualms or questions. They understood that God knows best.
Afterwards, I thought about how many adults are spiritually wounded by not having their prayers answered. How a loving God can let something so terrible happen. It is true that terrible things happen to good people--even people that are praying with true faith for deliverance from that terrible situation. And yet, that prayer goes seemingly unanswered. Sometimes terrible things happen because people with their agency to act, perform terrible acts on others. 99.9% of the time, God will not intervene and stop that agency. We retain our power to choose. Other times, such as in the cases of health, God has the power to heal. I have seen that healing power. However, when it happened it was God's will. Sometimes the pain we experience from unanswered prayers generates an unexpected strength to conquer greater tasks ahead.
I think a child understands the concept of submission to "God's will" more readily than an adult because they are so much more subject to the whims/desires of others, such as their parents. I remembered a scripture in the Book of Mormon that states, "For the natural man is an enemy to God...and will be...unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit...and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflect upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." (Mosiah 3:19)
As I sat reflecting on the conversation with my girls after the fact, I thought maybe this lesson is more often for us adults than for the humble children.