The story continues.
"So God must be pretty powerful," Tom said.
"Not just very powerful," the angel said. "He is all powerful. There is nothing--and I mean nothing--that he cannot do."
"Can he lie?" Sophie said with a smile.
The gargoyle smiled back. "He can, but he won't. It's impossible for God to lie because he refuses to do it."
The gargoyle continued. "There have been people who have played with words over the years to try to say that God can't do everything. One of the most famous is the question if God can make a rock so big that he can't lift it.
"But it's a trick question. God can lift every rock. That's what it means to say he is all-powerful. It is impossible for God to make a rock he can't lift precisely because he is all-powerful."
"So he wouldn't have all power if he couldn't do that, right?" Tom asked.
"And how much does God know?" Sophie asked next.
"Let me guess," Tom said. "He knows everything."
"That's right," the angel said.
"Even the future?" Sophie followed.
"Yes. And here's the tricky part. He knows the future even though you haven't yet decided what to do next."
Tom and Sophie didn't know what to say about that. It was an idea too big really to fit in your head.
"What else?" Sophie finally said.
"God is many more things, things that even I don't understand. He is here everywhere. There is nowhere you can go that God is not present.
"But the most important thing to know about God," the angel continued, "is that everything God does, he does with love."
"What about bad things? What about the bad things that happen?" Sophie asked.
"That's a hard one," Tom agreed.
"It is," the gargoyle said. "There a couple things you need to keep in mind with that. One is that God wants people to choose good. There's little pleasure in you doing the right thing if you don't really choose the right thing."
"You lost me there," Sophie said. "Could you say that again?"
"Which feels better?" the angel tried again. "If your dog comes to you because she loves you or if she comes to you because someone is smacking her with a stick?"
"That's not funny," Sophie said. "You shouldn't beat dogs with sticks."
"Don't look at me," Tom said.
"Obviously the dog should come to you because she wants to," Sophie finally answered.
"Exactly. So God does not force us to love him, and most of the time he does not force us to do the right thing. He wants us to choose to do the right thing.
"But if he gives us the power to choose," he continued. "Then some people are going to choose the wrong thing. A lot of the suffering of the world comes from God allowing us to choose."
"And what's the other thing?" Tom said. "What's the other thing we need to remember?"
"The other thing to remember is that God has the big picture in mind. He's not just loving toward you. He is loving toward everyone. Sometimes in order for some bigger good to take place, he allows some unpleasant thing to happen to individuals."
"My head hurts," Tom said.
"Mine too," Sophie added.
"It also helps to realize that some things we think are bad aren't always bad."
"That's a third thing," Tom remarked with a smile.
The angel look at him, but went on anyway. "Like death. Death is hard for the living, but those who die themselves are at peace if they are with God..."