One of the most difficult things for me is seeing all the sick people in the hospital and wondering why God doesn’t cure people anymore. It’s tough.
This is a recent comment I got from a medical student. Thanks for your honesty, it certainly is tough. For me, it was especially tough seeing kids with terrible diseases. I remember being present at the still-born deliveries of twins and thinking, “God, how can you let stuff like this happen?” The question I was really asking was, “God, if you are good, why do you allow suffering to happen?” The follow-up to that question is, “God, if you are good and all-powerful, why don’t you do something about it?”
This is a hard one. I think the best answer I’ve heard was from a sermon by John Piper who said that suffering and tragedies ought to remind us of our initial rebellion against God. It is a reminder that the world as it is was not the way it was created, but what we see now are consequences of our sin against God. I mentioned this in a previous post that because of Adam and Eve’s sin, not only was our relationship with God broken, but the whole natural order was corrupted (Romans 8:19-21). That means diseases (as well as natural disasters) are as much a result of sin as all the terrible things that people do to one another.
But knowing that suffering is ultimately the result of our separation from God, while true, isn’t very helpful when we come face-to-face with the ugly realities of this world. We can kill ourselves asking the why’s but, often times, God doesn’t give us the answers. Instead He says, “Look to my Son.”
I don’t think we’ll ever figure that out why God created the world knowing all the suffering that was going to result. But, somehow because of His love, it was worth it to create despite knowing that we would fall into sin. But God didn’t just create and run away. No, God was here. God entered into this world of suffering and sin in the person of Jesus, the incarnate Son.
When Jesus came into this world, yes He did heal the sick and make the lame walk. He even raised the dead. But there were multitudes that were not healed and even more who remained dead. God was here at one time, but He was not here to end all suffering. God was here, shared in our brokenness and suffering, and died on the cross to meet our ultimate need: to be reconciled with our creator God. Jesus’ healings and other miracles merely backed up His divinity and His ability to forgive our sins.
The story doesn’t end there. Not only was God here, but God is also near: Jesus is going to return. While He didn’t come the first time to end all sickness, poverty and natural disasters, when He returns, that’s exactly what He will do.
I don’t want to minimize the sufferings we encounter because the pain we experience is real. We should care. God cares. While we may be angry with God, without God there is no good answer for the problem of suffering. Without God, tragedies ultimately have no meaning; they just happen. But we have a God who took on the ultimate suffering, bearing the burden of our sins on the cross.
So back to the question, why doesn’t God just cure everyone? He actually still does heal (worthwhile read), but miraculous healings are the exception rather than the rule because there’s a spiritual reality that our sufferings point us to. More often, God uses ordinary people to be his hands and feet in order to love someone in their time of suffering to help them see their ultimate need for God, pointing them to Christ.
For future healers, this is not an easy calling to battle against the consequences of sin. In my next post I’ll write about some ways to process through these difficult experiences. For starters, let us remember the words of Revelation 21:4-5 that one day God “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
For those of you in the medical field (or any field for that matter), how do you deal with the suffering that you see? Please feel free to comment.
Adapted from a previous post in response to the Sandy Hook shooting
3/30/13 Found this video that has some good insights