You’re working in a classroom of first graders, and you notice Hannah is sitting by herself, playing with a carpet square’s fraying edge. You approach Hannah and say, “Hi Hannah, how are you this morning?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she replies, “Fine, I guess.” She pauses for a beat, and then says, “Teacher, does God get sad?”
How should you answer Hannah? There are simple truths you can tell her. You can tell her that God doesn’t get sad like we do because he’s different from us. At the same time, you can assure her that God loves us, and he isn’t far away from us in our sadness. You might answer her like this.
God Doesn’t Feel Sick or Get Lonely
That’s a great question, Hannah. Have you ever been sad before? What do you like to do when you’re sad?
Hannah, how does sadness feel? Does it feel like you’re sick to your stomach, like your tummy is in knots? When we get sad, we feel sadness the way we do because we have a body. But God is spirit. He doesn’t have a body like us. This means that God doesn’t get sad like we do when we cry and our tummy hurts (John 4:24).
You can tell a child that God doesn’t get sad like we do. At the same time, you can assure her that God loves us, and he isn’t far away from us in our sadness.
God created us to need other people. When you and I are sad or lonely, we might go to our mom and dad or a friend and ask them to give us a hug and help us feel better. We might cuddle with our dog or squeeze our favorite stuffed toy. If you or I didn’t have a mom or a dad or our favorite toy, we’d be sad.
But God isn’t like us. We sometimes feel needy and scared and sad because we aren’t in control and things don’t always turn out how we expect. But God is in control of everything. The Bible calls God our Heavenly Father because he’s the Creator of everyone and everything. That tells us something about how special God is. Can the God who made everything get sad and lonely? No way!
God Never Has a Bad Day
There are a few other reasons God doesn’t “get sad” like we do. We may get sad because our toy broke, or because our brother or sister was mean to us. We get sad because there’s something we want, or even something we need, that we can’t have. We may be sad because our dog ran away, and we can’t do anything about it. God doesn’t get sad like us because God is in charge. Nothing happens without God still being in control (1 Sam. 15:29).
Have you ever had a bad day? You wake up, and you just feel partly sad and partly mad. We are happy some days and sad on other days. We can even be happy one minute and sad the next! But God doesn’t change. He is always the same (Mal. 3:6). God never has a bad day. He never wakes up feeling blue. That means we can be confident that we’re always worshiping the same God.
What God wants is always perfect, and he’s always able to accomplish what he wants. This means God is always happy. He’ll always be happy to hear from us because he’s never having a bad day, or feeling blue. He’s always full of life and joy (Ps. 16:11).When we learn to trust that God is always doing the right thing, it will make us happy too.
The Bible does say God grieves over our sin (Gen. 6:6). He doesn’t feel sadness the same way we do, but God does love us. This means that when we’re hurt or sad, God notices and cares for us (Matt. 10:29; 1 Pet. 5:7).
Jesus Felt Sadness Like Us
God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to rescue us from our sin and hurt (John 3:16). We can see God’s love for us in Jesus. Jesus is both God and man. That means that while Jesus was on earth, he was perfect like God and he had emotions like we do. Jesus was happy, sad, tired, and even angry at times.
Do you remember the story of Jesus and Lazarus (John 11)? Lazarus was Jesus’s friend, and Lazarus had two sisters, Mary and Martha. They were Jesus’s friends too.
One day Lazarus got very sick, and after a few days, he died. This made Jesus sad. Jesus cried for his friend (v. 35). Jesus was also angry because his friend died. Jesus’s friends were all sad, and some of them were a little mad too.
Jesus Was Also Different from Us
But Jesus was different from us. Jesus knew his friend was going to die, and he knew Lazarus’s death was the best thing for the people he loved. Because Lazarus died, Jesus could show his friends and us that he has the power to raise the dead. So Jesus didn’t stay sad. He didn’t stay mad. He looked at the tomb, and he said, “Lazarus! Come out.” And Lazarus did. Grave clothes and all. And all the sad people became glad people because Jesus is God.
The Bible gives us this good news. Though Jesus is sad over our sin and hurt, he doesn’t stay sad. And he makes sad people glad (Rev. 21:4).
Though Jesus is sad over our sin and hurt, he doesn’t stay sad. And he makes sad people glad.
You can answer Hannah or another child with something like what I’ve written above, but it’s also important when we’re answering these sorts of questions from children that we pay attention to why they’re asking. A child may ask a question like “Does God get sad?” because she’s sad, and she’s wondering if God ever feels lonely and sad like she does. Be curious. Understand the child’s heart motivations. Then pray for God’s help to not only answer the child’s question but also to shepherd her heart toward Jesus.
“Kids Ask” is a series where pastors, Bible teachers, and theologians answer common questions young children have about the Bible.