sat quietly listening to the general buzz of the lunchroom as
well as the conversation of the friends at her table. Several
of her Christian friends were attempting to witness to the new
kid in school, a boy named Jeremy.
"I don't believe that God exists,"
Jeremy declared, frowning and setting his jaw in a hard line of
opposition. "If He does, then why does He allow so many bad things
to happen? Either He's not "all-powerful," as you claim, or He
can't be loving--you can't have it both ways."
Rae heard her friend Laticia launch
into an explanation of how the world's problems are a result of
sin, but her voice was drowned out by the echo of Jeremy's statement,
"either He's all-powerful or loving, not both…"
Tears stung the back of her eyes
as she remembered a hospital bed and a pale, nearly transparent
face, radiant brown eyes set in deep purple circles, and a forehead
dotted with tiny beads of perspiration, a tell-tale sign of the
pain. Once again, Rae could hear the soft and tender voice… "I
will always love you, Rae…don't forget."
"Don't forget," the last words she
ever heard her mother say, but Rae knew she was already starting
to forget the little things, and she had to look at pictures to
remind herself of what her mother had looked like before she got
Rae's world had been so different
then, four years ago, when it was her mom who came to wake her
up for school each day, rubbing her back and singing a medley
of songs about waking up and sunshiny days.
Rae's brow wrinkled as she tried
to remember the words of those once-familiar songs. "You are my
sunshine, my only sunshine…" she'd sing. Then, "Time to get up,
my sweet Rae of sunshine," she'd add, with a kiss on Rae's forehead.
After her mother went to heaven,
her dad had tried to keep up the tradition for her sake, coming
in to sing to Rae on her first day back to school. "You are my--"
but he got no further. Unable to choke out the next word, he fled
from the room, shoulders convulsing in great, heaving sobs. From
then on, Rae set an alarm and got herself out of bed each morning.
Why had God taken her mother away?
She remembered the early days, when her mom was first diagnosed
with lymphoma, and the pastor had been called to come pray for
her. He'd announced it to the whole church, and so many had promised
to pray daily. Several friends had told other friends around the
country, who in turn had asked their churches to pray for Rae's
Rae remembered her confidence that
God would answer their prayers and that her mom would soon be
healed. Instead, weeks turned into months and no good news. Then
one day, Rae's mom was too weak to get out of bed at all.
For her mom's sake, Rae had still
pretended to be
notes and vases of flowers to her mother's bedside, but her heart
felt like it weighed a ton. Within three months, Rae's mother
At that point, Rae had wanted to
turn her back on God, but her mom's example, in life and in death,
was what stopped her. Her mom had trusted God completely when
she was sick and dying, just the same as when she was healthy
and full of life.
She'd said it was only by His strength
that she'd made it through--and it had seemed at times that she'd
had superhuman strength, caring for and loving her family, putting
their needs first, until the very end. Rae knew that wasn't natural.
In fact, Rae had seen that the sicker
her mother became, the more she came to depend on God. Her Bible
became inseparable to her; Rae never saw one without the other.
The lonely bed-ridden hours weren't lonely to her at all, because
they were spent in fellowship with God.
Rae knew that if she were ever in
trouble, she'd need a close relationship with God as her foundation,
so she could follow her mother's beautifully gracious example.
She couldn't turn her back on God--not now, not ever. He was a
part of her, just as He had been a part of her mother, in good
times and in bad.
Rae looked down at her untouched
lunch tray, and noticed that the others were almost finished eating.
Her friend Laticia was saying, "I'm really sorry that happened
to you, Jeremy. Sometimes we don't understand God's purpose in
allowing bad things to happen. But He is real, and He does love
you very much."
Now looking at Jeremy, as though
for the first time, Rae noticed that his set jaw was actually
trembling a little, and his eyes were reddish with repressed tears.
Suddenly, she remembered the verses her pastor had read with her
father and her after her mother's death.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "Blessed be
God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies,
and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation,
that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble,
by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
Rae took a deep breath. She knew
what she had to do.
"Jeremy," Rae spoke for the first
time, "I know how it feels to question God about why He allows
bad things to happen. I've wondered that myself since my mother
Jeremy's face softened, and for
a moment their eyes locked in mutual sympathy. "I'm sorry to hear
that," he said, in a gentler tone, "How can you still believe
in God after something like that happens?"
Rae breathed a silent prayer. Her
painful experience had given her this opportunity to share her
mother's unwavering faith and the comfort she'd found in God's