The Bedside of a Dying Child
by Robert Kunda
The late Bertrand Russell said that, “No one can sit at the bedside of a dying child and still believe in God.” This is a very powerful repackaging of the ever-persistent problem of evil. Another way to state it would be to ask, “How can you say there is a good God when there is so much evil in the world?” And that’s not an easy question, is it? There is force there, because we know what death is like and we know what it’s like when we see suffering of the most innocent and helpless and know that it’s not right. And yet Russell’s statement is demonstrably false, as our local church can bear witness.
For some years now we’ve experienced one family’s ongoing trials with their son’s failing health, a son who very recently lost his life fighting the cancer inside him. Yet contrary to Russell’s statement, his family has demonstrated a greater faith in God, not one lessened. This family has shown strength, courage and an ever increasing trust in Jesus — an unfailing testimony to where their hope really lies, where their comfort really is. Far from hopelessness, they have been beacons of hope and faithfulness to the entire body of people around them, Christian or no.
It’s the trust in God that does in fact give comfort in times like these, for the problem of evil is everyone’s problem. For what does the atheist say at the bed of a dying child? Tough luck? That’s life? It happens to everyone? I don’t like it? It is what it is? Get over it you evolved pile of crashing atoms? There is no comfort to be had in atheism, unless ceasing to exist is the greatest comfort we could desire. To that end, Camus said the greatest question in life is whether or not to commit suicide, right? What do atheists say to that child in his death bed? “Don’t fret, young man, soon it will all be over?”
Only the theist, indeed the Christian, can in fact offer comfort…
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