by Sarah Anderson

I am mama to a two-year-old who is going through a bit of a rough stage. He is becoming more aware of being alone at night. And he is afraid. Of the dark. Of strange noises and imaginary monsters. So in order to calm these prevalent fears, his dad and I have started assuring him that even though we aren’t in the room with him, God is. This platitude has become part of the bedtime routine. “It’s dark,” he asserts. “God is here,” we assure.

Last night, my little guy prayed on his own. And when he finished we excitedly told him that God had heard all he had to say. My son looked at us expectantly saying, “God is here!” “That’s right!” we praised. To which my little guy asked, “Where’s His nose?”

A great question. Because it reflected his unyielding trust in what we had been telling him. The issue wasn’t whether God was actually with us in the room. The issue was, if God was in the room, then why couldn’t we see Him?

This morning I learned that a young mom I had never met passed away after a short, intense, battle with cancer. Her story resonated with me. I read an excerpt from an old blog post when, in a hospital bed, afraid, and grappling with the hand dealt her, she asked the nurse at her bedside a question. With tears in her eyes she pleaded, “Where’s God?” To which the kind, believing nurse responded, “Oh baby, He’s here.”

It seems it is a truth we never outgrow the need for. It seems our greatest fear—at any given time—is that we are alone in the bigness of an unfamiliar world. The questions that haunt us as children resurface over the course of our lives—what we once believed so easily isn’t always easy to believe. Early on, we need the reassurance that the God who made the dark—and the stars and moon that illuminate it—is with us as we drift to sleep. And later we need the reassurance that the God who made us and orchestrates all the beauty we encounter is near us in each tragedy too.

This matters, because the God of the universe has entrusted me, as a parent, with a tiny slice of eternity in the soul of my son. And given me the responsibility to tell him timeless truths—to lay the foundation for the certainties of our Creator. God is here. God is close. Even if we can’t see His nose—He is present. And so we, as parents, convey these truths, in their simplicity and matter-of-factness, so grateful for the tender ages and stages of belief we find in our children. They will take us at our word. They will hear and trust us.

We do this, as parents, because a day is coming when it won’t be the dark that prompts our kids to ask the questions they once did as toddlers. Then, confusing circumstances, broken relationships, and unexplained loss will stir in them the fear that God may not be as present as they hoped. But re-emerging uncertainty isn’t wrong. And it isn’t representative of a failure on our part. It will be a piece of our kids’ own personal journey of faith, just like it was part of our own.

Knowing this, I am more resolute that my son knows the truths life will most assuredly put on trial. I want him to hear from me first that God is faithful, so when he doubts it—as he inevitably will—he will remember his parents told him otherwise.

And in working to make sure he hears these assurances, I anticipate finding myself encouraged as well—reminded anew of the powerful truths I once believed so easily.

Sarah Anderson is a writer for Orange and loves being a mom to Asher and Pace and a wife to Rodney.