Where Is God?
Suppose everything we believed got stripped away from us in one horrific event and all the answers we thought we had suddenly seemed hollow and empty. Suppose a friend is killed by forces that to us seem incomprehensible. And suppose, in the middle of this loss and tragedy – this relentless “why” – we encounter God again in the ordinary moments of life.
That’s what happened Saturday morning in Israel. But where, you ask, was God in this tragedy? Where was God in the senseless killing of innocent people in their apartments as they got ready to have their morning coffee? Where was God when others were rousted onto the street by men carrying automatic weapons and then whisked away with no idea where they were being taken?
Some will trot out the ancient question, “If God is all-powerful and all-good, then why doesn’t He prevent all that death and suffering? Why does there have to be war?”
The first thing we know is, this wasn’t God’s will. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” But God’s will isn’t always done on earth, as the tragedy this week reminds us.
We know that this tragedy wasn’t merely some kind of heavenly “wake up call.” It didn’t happen so that we could be taught some lesson. Easy answers like that betray those who were killed by offering explanations and justifications for evil that are simplistic, insensitive, and even obscene.
Instead, the question we should be asking ourselves isn’t why this happened, but why this doesn’t happen more often than it does. Why do we as human beings not abuse, violate, and kill each other more often than we do?
Ever since sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, the mystery isn’t why there is evil in the world. The mystery is why there is any good in the world at all. But that good is where we find God.
God is moved by tragedy, too. We know how God reacts toward our suffering in the example of Jesus. He saw human tragedy and acted over and over again to try to end the suffering and relieve the pain of those whose lives He encountered.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem when it wouldn’t respond to God’s love. He wept in grief when his friend Lazarus died, even knowing that He would raise him from the tomb. During his own suffering on the cross He saw his mother’s pain and asked John to take care of her from that time on.
Jesus is moved by our fear, our grief, our pain, and our loss because He, too, has suffered. He weeps with us when we weep.
So, where is God in our tragedy? Where he’s always been. Right here among us. He’s present in his creation, moved by our tragedy, and making us strong enough to bear our grief.
Where Is God?