Several years ago I worked with a fellow who volunteered regularly at Ronald McDonald House with terminally ill children and their parents. Every couple months he’d come to work in pieces because another child had died. I always wondered what it was that drew him back. Could it be due to the fact that his family situation growing up could charitably be described as grossly abusive and he was somehow attempting to atone for the sins of another? Or could it be that the lives that he touched and which touched him outweighed the pain? I don’t know. Maybe he was just a saintly character with a strong ability to endure the terrible suffering of others.
Anyways, I remember in particular how he would never cease to marvel at the astounding poise, calm and assurance that dying children would offer to their parents. A child would be unable to get out of bed after a particularly vicious treatment of chemotherapy and as her father would sit weeping on the end of the bed she’d say in a hoarse whisper “Don’t worry daddy. It’ll be okay.” It always struck me that vignettes like that bring us to the very heart of the problem of evil. Is God to be found only when the children of Ronald McDonald House are healed? Or is he only to be found when Ronald McDonald House must be shuttered for lack of “guests”? Or could he be found even in the worst moments when a child can whisper to a parent with a calming assurance, “Don’t worry daddy. It’ll be okay.”?