A patient and I were discussing the plight of a little girl I’m also treating who recently had major surgery and then 10 days later was rushed back to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. His response was this.
“That poor girl…I’ll never understand what God has in mind with all the pain and suffering the young have to endure. Who could ignore the cries of a child? It seems like we’ve been forgotten and he’s moved on to another project.”
I know he’s not a believer. How can I respond to this in a way that could perhaps change that?
People who haven’t taken the time to learn about God and his character say things like this out of their ignorance. They don’t understand that all the pain and suffering in the world is a consequence of man’s sin and is not God’s doing. He certainly didn’t create the world this way.
Jesus called Satan the prince of this world (John 14:30), and Paul called him the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4). John wrote that even though believers are children of God the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19). It is he who brought all the pain and suffering into the world in an attempt to destroy God’s creation, it was man who disobeyed God and let it happen, and we’ve been suffering the consequences ever since.
Obviously God has the power to put an end to all of it, and one day He will. But if He did so before the appointed time, who knows how many millions of people would lose the opportunity to finally wake up and realize who He is and what He has done for them, and make the choice to join him in eternity.
This is what Jesus was talking about when He told us we would have trouble in this world, but to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Believers have the comfort of knowing that God has not forgotten us. Because He sent His Son to die for our sins we can live eternally with Him in a world where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev. 21:4).
And because God has delayed Satan’s day of reckoning, people like your patient can still have a chance to join us in that life.