The Deacon's Bench

“No sudden flash of insight led my return to God. It was the children who ultimately brought me back–the same group of suffering individuals who had caused me to doubt God’s existence. They buffeted me with questions: Why would God let them be so sick? Why didn’t God make them better? Why weren’t their prayers working? Why did God let their mom and dad break up? Abused children asked me why God had not stepped in to stop their torture: Why wasn’t God on their side? 

In the beginning I fled the children’s questions by hastily leaving their rooms, but soon realized I was meant to hear them and respond. Instead of expecting God to make their lives better, I decided to assume my own role. I sat with children and teenagers when their family members were nowhere to be found–being present with them in their fear, confusion, anger and sorrow. I acknowledged how little I really knew about God’s ways, while exploring what I could do to help. To their never-ending questions, I often said, I don’t know. My refusal to be a know-it-all comforted them. They could see I was in solidarity with them in their suffering.

Suddenly God became very real to me. In the suffering children, the “little ones,” I met the suffering Christ. When I rocked a child in pain, I comforted the suffering God. I remember looking into the faces of young children and asking myself, “Who is this–really–whom I am comforting?” Instead of an impassive, supremely independent God, I met a God who needed me to make a difference in the lives of suffering people. “

 — Pat Fosarelli, M.D., describing a skeptical doctor’s return to the faith.
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