“If Jesus wanted to,” my little seven-year-old fellow classmate declared, “He could flatten my thumb and make it big enough to go around the whole world.”
He held his thumb inches from my wide eyes. I stared at it without saying a word. I could almost see it spread and widen. I imagined it circling the globe like the thin peeling of an apple.
A circle of first graders gathered around him, a little emperor giving a thumbs up with confidence.
“Aw, that’s silly.”
“Well, He could.”
The class split down the middle. As if he tested the wind or maybe God Himself, he made a slow turn with his thumb high. A slew of childish comments surrounded it:
“Nobody can do that.”
“Jesus can. He can do anything.”
I puckered my forehead and concentrated on that thumb.
Was it growing?
In that moment, a little brown-haired, brown-eyed boy’s enthusiasm drowned out the other voices, and I listened to an argument in myself that as an adult I’m familiar with.
Well, He could do anything, I answered myself.
But would He? I argued inside.
Why would Jesus even want to make a thumb cover His world? I figured maybe He would settle the debate right there to prove Himself. In fact, I prayed that thumb might miraculously spread like a thin leaf and wrap around the whole sphere of our world just to show all the doubters who was in charge.
Except to be completely honest, that little declaration made me wonder if I was one of them? Was I too, a doubter?
As I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered childish questions are adult-ish realities. Someday those innocent God-challenges will be cries in the depths of a torn heart. Maybe they are right now in your heart.
If Jesus wanted to, He could stop a plague.
If Jesus wanted to, He could calm the unrest.
If Jesus wanted to, he could heal my daughter.
As parents we want to introduce our children to a big God, one who can make a thumb cover the world. But Jesus does not always respond as we would, nor as we think He should. It’s tempting to wrap our spiritual life with beautiful bows for our children, and even at times at the expense of Biblical truth. We want to right wrongs, remove pain, protect and promise everything will be okay. Yet sometimes deep pain is the best place to be because it is exactly the place where Jesus waits.
The amazing thing is Jesus Himself has been in that place.
“…and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them.
‘Stay here and keep watch.’
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground
and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.
‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you.
Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”
· Mark 14:33-36 ·
Jesus, in His darkest hour as he intensely pleaded with His Father, was denied His request. His submission was radiantly victorious. Children who land on the side of trust in the middle of life’s enigmas build into their faith the assurance that “God does the right thing.”
Here are a few things to remember when our adult inner struggle is about child-like faith.
1 • Jesus does not have to do what I want to prove Himself.
“…He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”
· Daniel 4:35 ·
2 • Not understanding God doesn’t show He is incapable it shows He is vast.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
· Isaiah 55:8-9 ·
3 • Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.
“This is how God showed his love among us:
He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
· 1 John 4:9-10 ·
The biggest perplexities of life need a foundation that doesn’t make false promises, platitudes or spiritual clichés. God knows what He is doing, even when it seems His answer is no.
And let’s be honest: If that little thumb had gone all around the globe, it would have been chaos.