"I want to live on earth forever."
Me: Well, I don't think God wants us to live a short time on Earth...
4 yo: Why God want us to die?
Me: Oh sweetie, God doesn't want us to die. God loves us forever.
4 yo: But why God want us to live a short time on Earth?
Me: You can live a long, full life on Earth, baby. But everything dies, that's just the way it is. And then God's love is forever.
4 yo: But I want to live on Earth forever!
Me: I know, baby. I know. You're asking really good questions and you can always talk to me about anything.
4 yo: I don't want to die.
Me: I know, baby. I know. That's why it's good that God's love is forever.
These are the hardest questions. I once read an article that said when you give birth, you reckon with knowing you've brought a being into the world that is destined to die. It's a somber thing for a preschool child (and a mama!) at 8 pm at night.
My kids have asked many questions about heaven and what happens after we die. They've seemed surprised when I've said that I don't really know, and that no one really knows. I want to give them something to hold fast to, but I also feel uncomfortable making specific promises about pearly gates, harps and choirs. They'd prefer endless fruit snacks and a voluminous bouncy house, anyway. Once, when I mentioned some classical ideas about heaven, my older child said it sounded "boring."
The only solid thing I've really said is that God's love is forever. I've said it countless times in memorial sermons, at the bedside of the dying and in funeral parlors at private visitations. What else is there to say to these little ones? The love of a mysterious Eternal has anchored me; I pray my kids find a berth there, too.
Note: Conversation took place April 28, 2020. May be appropriate during pandemic?!