One of the outrages that you hear whenever tragedy, calamity, suffering, or injustice are experienced in our world is “Where is God?,” or “If God is so loving how could He let this happen?,” or “Why would God allow such a thing?” We especially hear those kinds of statements from non-believers, and it seems to me that the most ardent atheists climb out of the woodwork ready to pounce on believers with questions like that. When calamity strikes God is often criticized, if not condemned, by the non-believing public. They scoff at our beliefs, they laugh at our answers to their questions. And, in some cases, they attack our beliefs vehemently. It’s like they are using these situations to attempt to convince us that God does not exist, because if He did, and if God is as good and loving as we say that He is, then God would never let things like this happen.
Just this past week, I heard of an acquaintance whose eight-year-old grandson died in an 4 wheel ATV accident. A friend who knows the grandmother better than I, told me that the parents of the child are angry with God, very angry with God. I can understand that feeling. Who wouldn’t be? How can you explain the accidental death of an eight-year-old? I’m not even going to attempt to take on that specific example.
Those questions with raised fists or tear stained faces repeated themselves the day of September 11, 2001 after terrorists in hijacked airliners struck the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and the subsequent crash of United flight 93 in Shanksville, PA that day. Almost 3,000 innocent people lost their lives as a result, with another approximate 6,000 people wounded.
We also ask the “Where was/is God?,” when we are facing major health challenges, loss of a job, or when a child is neglected or abused, etc. So where is God when tragedy strikes? God is there! God is still in the same place that He’s been when things were going well in our lives. God is immutable, meaning that He never changes. God is omnipresent, meaning that He is everywhere at once. And that’s an answer that the non-believers, the atheists, and sometimes even believers cannot accept. I too can understand that thought, because our human minds can’t comprehend that God would allow such suffering to happen.
But, we as created finite beings, constrained to the world that we see, feel, hear, taste, and touch, cannot possibly begin to understand the mind, will, and plan of the most intelligent being that there ever will be. I look at it like this, compared to God, my mind is like that of an infant as I know only a mere sliver of the things that God knows. I know that God gives free-will to people, and in regards to that free-will, it seems to me that God is pretty much hands off. If not, then we would all be nothing but marionettes dancing on our strings through this life.
It’s a fact, this is a fallen world, and evil is an ever-present part of it. There are forces that will continue to wreak havoc on all of us, God’s children and non-believers alike. And, until Jesus comes again, the world will remain in this manner. So, why doesn’t Jesus just come right away and make our world perfect so that we can be happy and live in perfect righteousness and harmony? Well, that’s a good question, and we can turn to 2 Peter 3:9 for the answer: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, ESV) God has patience, an enormous amount, and He is waiting before bringing judgment on the world. He longs to bring others into His love and light, so that they too can spend eternity with Him.
So God is right here. He was there in the Twin Towers, He was there in the Pentagon, He was there with the passengers on United flight 93, He was there with those grieving their lost loved ones. He is there with the parents of my acquaintance while they grieve. He’s right there all the time.
Perhaps the question we should ask ourselves when we want to shake our fists because God didn’t advert some tragedy is not “Where was God?,” but perhaps the question we should ask is “Where am in in relation to God right now?” For sure it’s not easy to go through these times of trouble, but the better question to address is “Where is my faith right now? Do I still believe that God is sovereign? Is God still on the throne of my heart?” Ask yourself those questions. Turn to God in prayer – He can take the heat from you. Search out how others experienced tragedy in the Bible, and you’ll find the answers that they discovered.
God is there!
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah” (Psalms 46:1, ESV)