“Think too of all who suffer as if you shared their pain. ” Hebrews 13:3 J.B. Phillips
I’m not sure if tonight is a full moon, or maybe the barometric pressure is changing, or we got an influx of red dye no. 5 into our drinking water but there’s some crazy things happening tonight within my community of friends. And they aren’t ha-ha, funny, crazy things. They are serious, sad, life altering situations that are happening one right after another.
Spouses walking out on families, teens losing it and screaming at their parents, elderly parents dying, job loss, unexplained sickness. A whole lot of hurting is going on. A whole lot of hurting people asking where God is, why God is mad at them, and why would God allow these things to happen. They are asking, “Where is God?”
I normally would have really strong answers about looking eternal rather than temporal, or something really insightful about coming through this furnace without smelling like smoke, enduring trials with joy, blah, blah, blah. It’s not that I don’t believe those things it’s just I’ve had my own crisis of faith this summer.
Now I’m not about to make tonight about me. Believe me, I have a whole lot more praying to do. But I can relate more to these people than I really care to admit. I personally realized a few weeks ago that I have been pretty mad at God for some 20 odd years. It deserves more details but just for tonight my story is I was so mad at God for not healing my mother of cancer when I had fervently prayed for her healing and then to get the double whammy of being left in a physically and verbally abusive situation. I was furious at pat answers that God was always with me and His hand had never left me.” Oh yeah”, I wanted to shout, “if He was there why did He stand by and let me be hit over and over and over again? What kind of sicko is that? What kind of lesson did I need to learn? What did I do to deserve this? Where was my champion? Where was my Savior? Where was my all powerful God?”
I know these are lies created by Satan himself with the goal of causing me to turn from God but they are lies rooted in a certain sort of reality.
Tonight I have so many friends hurting, so many friends confused, so many friends feeling isolated and alone, as if God Himself had walked out on them. I can’t in good conscience justify the ways of God with them. Phillip Yancey writes in “Where is God When It Hurts, ” God does not condemn our moments of despair and unbelief.” We condemn people when we tell them to suck it up, or it could be worse, or whatever weak, human experiences we try to derive our answers from.
I guess what I’m trying to say I don’t want to have pat answers for people who are mad or doubting God. When doubt is present there is an epic battle brewing for someone’s soul and God is about to bring it down. But on the contrary if we try to get people to just accept how the things of this earth are instead of encouraging them to wrestle with angels and argue with God I’m not sure what kind of Christ-follower we are. Faith is messy. Faith is not easy. Trusting in the unknown can be tenuous at best. I heard recently basically if we try to have all the answers for everyone on the journey towards Christ they don’t get the chance to expand to their faith. I don’t want to leave them alone in their battle. But I want to try and walk along side of them encouraging them and letting them know they are not alone, God is faithful, and they will get through these situations. But how do you make that real for people without sounding petty?
I don’t have a lot of clear answers tonight and that’s probably a good thing. I guess, that’s really the point. The mystery of God and His will are still very much revealing themselves to me. But for myself and for others I desperately try to keep my gaze on Him and rest in the truth of His word. I’m realizing how very young and immature I am in my faith. I have much to learn. For now I’m still the child, trusting God will work out all that needs to be worked out.
I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.
How do you minister to people going through crisis? How do you answer those tough questions of God’s will, His faithfulness, and His plan when all they can see is pain, frustration, and disappointment? What words do you have for the question, “Where is God?’