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What Ravi Zacharias taught us about the questioner

Ravi Zacharias
Ravi Zacharias speaks at an open forum at the University of Florida, 2019. |

Hospitalized after surviving a suicide attempt, someone gave seventeen-year-old Ravi Zacharias a Bible. Never having really looked at one, he started reading. He came upon these words: “Because I live, you also will live.” John 14:19. It changed his suicidal life and then it helped change the lives of millions of others.

My dad had recently died, then soon after I was dealing with cancer, and plenty of financial concerns. I asked God, “Why?” It was such a challenging time. Then I found someone who could answer “why” with Biblical wisdom—Ravi Zacharias.

Ravi spent much of his career answering tough questions from those wondering about a God who didn’t seem to care about evil, destruction, death, and disease. With Biblical accuracy, Ravi answered questions with calm assurance.

But mean-spirited questions, from those who denied God’s existence, never phased Ravi. He never used his keen intellect to demean others. Ravi often said that behind the question, is the questioner. Ravi always responded respectfully. One time a college student asked why God had allowed his mom to die of cancer. Ravi sympathetically said that cancer was just one more example of the broken world in which we live and die. And cancer didn’t spare Ravi either—a rare form took his life far too soon.

I will miss him. Ravi had such respect for people. It didn’t matter what they believed. He welcomed discussions. Yet, he never wavered in his own faith in Jesus. “We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right.”

Perhaps what made Ravi so authentic was his genuine love. In a world with many broken relationships, his view on love was this: “Love is hard work. It is the hardest work I know of, work from which you are never entitled to take a vacation.”

It’s so easy to be caustic in divisive times. What’s hard is to show what Ravi did so often in the heat of a debate—calmness. His well-chosen words never belittled the questioner and it revealed that he cared about them. “Respect for the right of another to be wrong does not mean the wrong is right.” Ravi never wavered in his faith—even if some never understood it.

As we lose great people of faith, it seems the void will never be filled. But Ravi left some final words to encourage us all in our journey, “Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.”  Ravi Zacharias finished very well—Heaven’s gain.

Karen Farris saw the need to help underserved kids while serving in a youth ministry that gave her the opportunity to visit rural schools on the Olympic Peninsula. She now volunteers her time grant writing to bring resources to kids in need. She also shares stories of faith in action for those needing a dose of hope on her weekly blog, Friday

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