During my sophomore year, I had a class called Comparative Religions. I took this class thinking I was going to learn about other religions. It turned out to be very different from what I expected.
First of all, we all sat with our desks in a circle. Then, our teacher would throw out questions for discussion. We were to answer the question in a way that supports the specific religion we believe in. Fearful how others might respond, I always slouched in my desk. I wasn’t alone in my fears. The whole room usually seemed uncomfortably silent.
One day, the teacher asked a question that shook me up:
“Why does God let a child molester get away with his actions, but a 6-month-old baby dies of cancer?” Suddenly the class was no longer so silent—this question started a huge discussion. Two answers I remember most went something like this:
“Maybe God is trying to get revenge on us for our sins.”
“I think God wants us to be Buddhist because they believe in happiness.”
I looked at two other Christians in my class, realizing they were too afraid to speak up. My heart started pounding as I glanced nervously at a few students who appeared to be sleeping. Some of them probably thought they were too cool to answer. Out of nowhere I heard my voice saying, “I don’t believe any of that.”
I sucked in my breath, realizing that all heads had turned toward me. I contemplated not explaining myself as my teacher just looked at me. I was risking becoming “that Christian freak.” But suddenly, I felt the courage to continue.
“I don’t think God chose to have the world filled with evil, but Satan and humans have shaped the world into the way it now is.”
“What about the baby? Shouldn’t God have ordered one of his heavenly angels to come save it?” my teacher asked, waving his arms dramatically.
I cautiously answered, trying not to anger the teacher. “To be honest, I don’t have an answer, but I know God doesn’t enjoy the pain we experience. And he doesn’t enjoy it when people get away with doing wrong things. I don’t really know how to explain, but God didn’t make the world this way. It’s broken by sin, so maybe the question should be stated differently. I don’t think we can judge God on the evil of this world. Instead, I just have faith he is in control and will one day right the wrongs.”
As the teacher glared at me and moved on to a different question, I felt a rush of happiness. I had a sense that God was proud of what I had just done, and that he was smiling over the courage and the faith I showed in this tough moment.
Brooke, a junior, plays soccer and is involved in a mentoring program that helps freshmen adjust to their first year in high school.
Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today/Ignite Your Faith magazine.
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