Theodicy in the Hospital
God is good, prayed me and my wife. Today was the first day and the first cycle of my wife’s chemotherapy. As we entered the hospital, I noticed the different expressions of the people around. Most of the relatives and patients sport a cheerless face. I always tell myself that the hospital is the loneliest and depressing place in the world. But I really never appreciated the impact of theodicy in the hospital context until my wife started asking me. She was a little bit nervous because she does not know what to expect and what she will feel during the therapy and after it. We went into the Chemotherapy Unit of a popular Government Hospital. She was scheduled early that day. She was assigned a chair so she was pleased with it because she doesn’t like to lie on a bed. She said it makes her feel “sick.” She was ranting about this being her first time to be hospitalized all her life then she has to undergo this ordeal. “Of the 10,000 females around me,” my wife said, “why would God allow me to be the one to suffer this exhausting disease?” Unexpectedly, the next patient was seated beside her.
The other patient seated beside my wife was a 9 year old quiet boy with a gloomy look on his face. He was pale and bloated with water all over his body. The accumulated water over his neck area seems to strangle him and makes his condition look worst. He hardly moves and moans with every little movement he does. His mom holds him and bids him goodbye to attend to the paper works for his chemotherapy session. The little boy looks at his mom with understanding mixed with fright and nervousness of being left alone to battle against the pain of needle insertion and the lonesomeness of battling his condition all by himself at such an early age. The kid looked at us and we can’t help but notice the grimace in his face as he battles the boredom with seating for four hours instead of playing outside with other kids with all the energy a 9 year old boy have. My wife and I looked at each other trying after the boy stared at us as if asking, “Why would God allow this to happen to an innocent little boy like me?”
This little boy was just one of the hundred of kids suffering from a kidney disease in that hospital. The nurse told us that there were kids as young as two years old who come to them for treatment. I reminded myself, here is a boy who is just one of a hundred innocent pediatric patients in that hospital that day. The next day, there will be another hundred. If the hospital facility operates for the whole week, there should at least be five hundred innocent children suffering the same ordeal and sitting or lying in bed for treatment instead of playing outside. But that is only in that hospital. How many hospitals do we have in the Philippines? How many more little children suffer then? But that is only in this country. Imagine the other kids from other countries? How many more kids suffer from debilitating diseases? Some will be blessed to have treatment available for them just like the little kid beside my wife. But how many innocent children just had to wait and die because they do not have the means or do not have access to treatment? How many innocent little kids had their bright future cut short by life-threatening diseases? I asked myself, “Why would God allow these things to happen?”