About a decade ago, Emma came into my class, eager to learn. She was the dream eighth-grade student. She was funny and thoughtful, and she viewed the world through the eyes of someone much older. Her faith was deep, her understanding of Scripture mature, and her convictions sincere. I could go on, but she was the type of student who added needed depth to class discussions and learning activities. It was a great year, but unfortunately, with just a few weeks left in the school year, she informed me that her family had decided to move halfway around the world. Sad as I was to see her go, I was confident that she would head to that far-off land equipped and ready for the spiritual, academic, and social realities of high school.
Years passed, and, to my surprise, Emma showed up one day at the school. Now in her mid-20s, she was on her way to starting a master’s degree. Time passed quickly as we discussed life, school, and her old classmates. It was not long before I asked her about her walk with God and how she was adjusting to faith as a young adult. Bluntly she responded, “I don’t practice that faith anymore. Too many questions with not enough answers.” She added, “And way too much prayer with way too much silence and disappointment.” I was instantly reminded of the dangers of placing anyone on a pedestal. I couldn’t stop myself from blurting out the least compassionate thing I think I could have said at that moment: “Why?”
With her permission, I include some of the conversations that we have had over the past few years about faith and doubt and why trust was the central issue for her. She shared that her doubt was rooted in the inability of the Christian body to do anything regarding issues surrounding tough questions of the Christian faith. She noted that two particular areas created a lack of trust.
C.F. Ward teaches social studies and Bible at Covenant Christian School in Leduc, Alberta. He is also a doctoral student at Carey Theological College in Vancouver, B.C.