God gets no credit. My brother and sister-in-law did this. They did it despite doctors telling them to let him go. They did it despite family members nay-saying. They did it at the expense of their own financial well-being, moving around the country to find the best possible care. They did it out of their unconditional love. Where was God? Well, some people would say that God put this child in their care because he had a plan. If that's the case, why stop there? Why didn't he prevent the doctors from doping him up for the first year of his life? Why didn't he send better professional care his way? What did he do to deserve the pain he lived through? And what of the emotional and physical costs to my brother and sister-in-law? What did they do to deserve that?
I had a conversation once about this with a pretty religious person... His thought was that God sent the child to us in order to teach us a lesson, much like he did with his own son Jesus. My thought? God's a sadistic bastard if that's the case. I don't get the logic - suffering SUCKS. It's not a lesson. It's not a higher power giving a damn about some slightly evolved mammals on a blue rock orbiting a nondescript star in an average galaxy in a small galactic neighborhood 13 billion years in the making. Suffering is a person going through torments - and the people around him or her are affected deeply in their own ways. My brother and his wife were good people before my nephew was around - and afterward, they're still good people. Maybe they value life a bit more, or maybe they treat their surviving children (who are, by the way, amazing kids) just that much better - but come on, bringing a kid into the world to suffer through what my nephew suffered just to teach a frickin' lesson? Wouldn't it be easier to, oh I don't know, put up a billboard? "BE NICE TO EACH OTHER" "CARE ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBORS" "DON'T SCHTUP THE FARM ANIMALS" See? I just saved your god a lot of work - and I don't even NEED a lesson from on-high to get that.
Over at the Friendly Atheist blog, Richard Wade shares a story about his own experiences with prayer and a relative in pain. That's what sparked my post. Here's a bit of his write-up - go read the rest of it. It's touching and written beautifully.
The first one was resentment. Hearing God get praise for all sorts of good things he was doing for Mom I was standing there wondering what am I, chopped liver? I’m the one who has been there, been there, been there for Mom, helping her, comforting her, trying futilely to keep the pain away any way I can, even when the pills and the morphine injections aren’t enough and all I can do is to hold her while she screams and screams as if she’s on fire. I’m the one who has slept in a chair next to her bed for the last month, half of that in this damn hospital, trying to keep up a positive face, resting only when she rests, waking at the slightest moan, taking care of things that the overworked nurses take too long get around to, never putting more than four hours of sleep together at a time, the custodian of the ruin of what was once a remarkable and admirable person, her in-tact mind trapped in an agonized body that now looks like a medical science experiment. She hasn’t had any help from an all-powerful heavenly father, just a nearly powerless earthly son. Spare me the lame crap about how God put me here as his agent, his nursing staff member. If he could do that he could have saved her a lot of suffering by preventing her from getting shingles on top of rheumatoid arthritis in the first place. Even the doctors seem taken aback by her level of suffering. The dead Lucille Ball is doing far more for Mom’s comfort than God is.
Go give someone you love a hug.