… our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.(Daniel 3:17-18 ESV)
This post is not following the 31 Days of Prayer for children guide but is based upon a dilemma which occurred for me as I prayed for my 10-year-old daughter who was beaten up at school today.
She was foolishly kidding around and provoked a boy in her class. He then proceeded to punch and kick her, pulled her hair, and banged her head against a coat hook. She now has a nasty bruise on her forehead and a very sore head.
I often pray that God will protect her, she hears these prayers and yet didn’t feel protected today. God did not intervene to prevent the incident, no teacher was around to stop it happening and it was her peers who vainly tried to stop an out of control bully. Even her parents are only able to respond after the fact, we will be discussing it with the school tomorrow but could not prevent what has already happened.
When I rested my cheek on hers and prayed this evening I could not bring myself to ask God to protect her, though secretly that is still what I want. Instead I prayed for Him to comfort her and take away her anxiety, to heal her and give her rest.
How do I pray out loud for God to protect the child who He has not protected from being bullied?
I know that bad things happen to Christians and this does not mean God has deserted us. My understanding of God is able to accommodate incidents such as this, my main concern is about how this affects my daughter’s perception of the usefulness of prayer? Is there any point praying for God to protect her is He appears to simply allow bad things to happen? How do I encourage her faith in a God who really does listen to (and answer) our prayers?
These are honest questions, I do not know the answers. I will continue to wrestle with this over the next few days. (See the results of the wrestling here).
A possible explanation is that it was better for Iona to suffer this incident and learn valuable lessons from it rather than to have to experience worse sometime in the future because she had not yet learned those lessons. But does this mean that God’s wisdom is limited to only being able to teach some things through hurtful experiences? The trite answers fail.
Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
(Job 13:15 ESV)
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Image of boy punching: iStockphoto