Last year, my 9 year old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Now, I know that every mother says this, but my daughter is truly as perfect as a human being could be. She is sweet, kind, generous, caring and compassionate. She had always wanted to work at NASA when she grew up so that she could save the environment, mankind and the world.
But after a year of chemotherapy and radiation, she has suffered some very dangerous and rare side effects. She has not let the drugs cripple her spirit, but every organ in her body has been weakened. She has lost much of her innocence and faith in the goodness of the world. She is not quite so able to help others now.
So here's my question: Why would G-d hit such a perfect child? Wouldn't He want her to save the world? Why must she suffer, and never be able to fulfil her dream to help humanity?
My heart reaches out to you in what must be a most painful and heart-wrenching time. There are no words that can take away the pain and no explanations that can satisfy a heart grieving for the life that could have been for your daughter.
I join you in protesting your daughter's undeserved suffering, together with the suffering of all innocent people. I do not believe that G-d wants us to defend the suffering of innocents. He may have His reasons, but that is His business. Our business is to oppose and relieve the suffering of innocent people wherever we can.
G-d is ultimately responsible for allowing undeserved pain to exist. But we must also recognise that G-d is the source of life itself, and life is also undeserved. Nobody earned the right to live, and nobody gained life on their own. G-d is responsible for suffering, but He is also responsible for life in the first place.
So just as we can ask, "What did this girl do to deserve so much suffering?", we can also ask, "What did we do to deserve such a beautiful soul as this girl?" The very fact that such a shining soul came down to this world is a gift. For whatever reason, this soul had to go through the darkest of journeys, and yet her soul is the brightest of souls. Just as we are pained by her suffering, we must also be thankful for her goodness. G-d caused that too.
Every life has to be seen as a whole, a package. The good and the bad, the painful and the beautiful, these things cannot be separated. They are all intrinsic to the soul's identity, and to its journey in this lifetime. You can't have the talents without the challenges, and you can't have the beauty without the pain. Your daughter's fine qualities and her terrible suffering - this is her soul.
Why is this so? Why can't it be different? Only G-d knows. And the truth is, we don't want to know the answer to that. We don't want an explanation for pain, we just want an end to it. In the meantime, all we can do is be thankful for life. And be thankful for the gift that we have been given, the soul of your daughter, who has and will continue to bring goodness and light to the world.
At NASA they will tell you how small and insignificant our planet earth is in the whole scheme of the universe. But there are some things that they will never discover anywhere else in the universe: the unconditional love of a mother for her child, the indomitable spirit of the human being to stand up to adversity, and the simple yet infinite power that humans have to give, to care, to love and to do good for each other.
NASA can achieve a lot for our planet. But a little girl who faces adversity with dignity, and counters pain with goodness, and fights hopelessness with hope, can achieve infinitely more.
I wish you, your daughter and all your loved ones strength and courage to face the challenges ahead, and we pray for her complete recovery.