QUESTION: My dad was recently diagnosed with ALS. We are all pretty devastated. He knows that his quality of life will diminish, and he will become totally reliant on us kids. The other night he asked, “Why is God doing this to me?” I didn’t know how to answer him. I guess I have the same question.
ANSWER: The simple answer is that God is not doing this. Bad things happen in our lives because of sin. The second and third chapters of Genesis remind us that God did not create us to be sinful. The sad consequence of human sinfulness is suffering and ultimately physical death.
The better question that you should ask is, “How should we respond?” An excellent example is recorded for us in John 9, which tells the story of Jesus healing the man who was born blind. The disciples asked Jesus for a logical explanation as to why this man was blind. Using their human reason, they concluded that either the man or his parents had sinned and blindness was the punishment. Jesus answered “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3). According to Jesus, the focus is not on the physical ailment but rather on the response to the condition.
We can’t fully understand God’s plans, but we can do our best to glorify God in every situation. Your father’s illness will cause physical pain, but it might serve as an outlet for others to demonstrate their compassion. His condition might scare away some of his friends, but it could draw him closer to his Savior. His disease will lead some to say that his life is no longer worth living, but you and your family can provide a Christ-like example of unselfish love.
The next time someone asks, “Why would God do this?” you can respond, “So that my faith can be strengthened and His name glorified!”
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