For 3rd - 6th graders
Sooner or later most people struggle with anger toward God. Some wouldn't even be able to admit it but for many this anger drives them away from God. There's plenty in this world to get angry about. There's plenty of pain and evil and injustice to go around. And what's really at the base of it? EVIL.
Share a personal story about a time when you were mad at God. Be honest. Don't wrap it up into a neat package either with a happy ending. BUT then you saw the reason for it all! Your transparency on this will set up a safety zone for your kids to wrestle with questions most of them struggle with.
Give a pencil and a piece of paper to one of your kids to be a scribe or have one of the kids write on the black or white or poster board then ask them to make a list of all the things in the world that seem unfair. Explain that these can be global issues (starvation, etc.) or they can be personal issues (divorce, fights, etc.). Encourage them by adding some of your own personal issues.
Give each an index card and have them write their biggest gripe about God. What one thing makes them frustrated or mad at God or makes them doubt Him the most? Don't ask them to share this and let them know they won't be asked to. They can be completely candid with God. Tell them they can phrase it like I'm bugged that.... or Why did You allow this to happen?
Psalms 10 & 77
Read these Psalms in a dramatic way, full of anger. It would be cool to divide the verses into a reader's theatre and have two or three dramatic readers. Some of your kids might be uncomfortable with this presentation of a Bible passage which would be great!
Why does bad stuff happen?
First, we have to realize that we don't always get to know the reason.
Christians have a way of trying to settle on a reason for every unfair thing. That's not always possible and forcing a fake reason doesn't do us any good.
Pass out one puzzle piece to each kid. Explain that this puzzle piece is a lot like our lives. We get to see some of the picture, some of the colors, but we don't get to see how it all fits together – at least not always. Sure, we can look at the picture on the front of the puzzle box which in this case would be the Word of God and all God's revealed truth. And we can get enough info to understand what the basic subject of the puzzle is. But we usually don't get to see the whole picture. Maybe give them a piece of yarn to wrap around the puzzle piece and make a bracelet out of it to remind them.
Point out that this scripture doesn't say “God causes bad stuff to happen.” It does say God takes all things bad and good and uses them for good in our lives. Unfortunately it doesn't say we get to know all the details of the plan.
God has everything under control. Reminding ourselves of this truth will help us deal with our anger.
Bad things happen because actions have consequences.
This is touchy because sometimes we end up suffering consequences from someone else's evil!
God had 2 options when He created us
He could have made us like robots – pure all the time, quick to worship him and quick to do what's right. But with no real choices.
He could and did decide it was somehow better for Him and us to allow us to choose between good and evil.
We make unhealthy decisions, and we have to live with the consequences.
Ask them if they know the consequence these Bible people had to live with as a result of their choices.
David's sin with Bathsheba (Their first born child died)
Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (They had to leave the garden.)
Cain killed his brother Abel. (He had to wander the land, never to settle down.)
Lot's wife looked back as she was fleeing from Sodom. (She was turned into a pillar of salt.)
Judas betrayed Jesus. (He was branded as a traitor for all time.)
Display a few ingredients to make cookies (chocolate chips, butter, flour, salt)
Ask if they would like to eat some flour. Or some butter. If you can get one of your crazy kids to do it – go for it!
Now pass out chocolate chip cookies and ask everyone to hold them for a minute. Explain no truly normal person would want to consume the ingredients separately – this will be a badge of honor for any kid who took you up on eating ingredients.
You might like eating a cup of chocolate chips, but you probably don't want to eat the flour or salt or butter separately. It's a mix of all the flavors together that makes the cookie so good. In the same way God loves to use the sweet things and the bitter things in life to bring about a wonderful result.
Most people get angry with God from time to time. God can handle that! We can't always see the reason for bad stuff because we can't see everything from God's perspective. Sometimes bad stuff happens just because there's evil in the world – which God allows and will use for our good. Sometimes bad stuff happens to us as a consequence to our own bad choices and sin. But God still wants to turn that into good stuff!
Have them pull out those cards and look at them again. Explain that God knows what we feel. He knows if we're angry or sad. We have to trust God wants to use that bad thing for good somehow. If they are willing to trust God on this or willing to try, ask them to write GOD IS IN CONTROL on top of their earlier writing and put it in a safe place as a reminder.
Do you think God ever did something mean to you on purpose?
Is it okay to be angry with God?
So why does bad stuff happen to us?
People make unhealthy decisions all the time. Who's to blame when bad stuff happens then?
What's one of the worst things you've seen on the news lately? Did God make it happen?
Why can't we see how the puzzle fits together?
Think of one thing no matter how small that you can let go of that's not fair in your life. Allow God to be God and trust He has a plan for you and will make it turn into something good, somehow.