Life's Questions: Where Was God?
A Crisis of Faith
This article was written several years ago and since then much has happened. My sisters, one of which is shown in the photos, have both died. And I miss the one in the photos acutely every day. (The other sister and I were not as close in case you wonder.) Other things have happened personally and globally that have shaken and continue to shake my faith. I have so many questions and theologians with whom I have reached out have no answers either. One very wise person of God said words which I know to be true--- " for some things, there just are no answers " That was not really what I wanted to hear but that is that. I continue on this journey hoping to make sense of it all-- continuing to speak with God and still filled with questions
Down through the ages, man has questioned God and his existence and where He was when they felt they needed Him most.
- When the beautiful African men were torn from their homes and thrust like chattel into boats ill equipped to hold them, where was God?
- When those African families were torn apart again as children were torn from Mothers, where was God?
- When slavery became a profitable way of life in America, where was God?
- On the day that the massacre occurred at Columbine High School, where was God?
- On the day that two airliners were flown into the World Trade Center towers, where was God?
- On the days of hurricane Katrina when so many lives were torn apart and totally devastated, where was God?
- On the day when Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, Dr. M.L. King were shot, where was God?
- On the day that smoke and fog caused the death of 11 who were traveling the roads of Florida, where was God?
- On the day that an elementary school was more like a battleground than a safe haven for children, where was God?
- On the day the three day old baby died due to heart complications, where was God?
- On the night when the young husband sits up all night with his wife who has cancer that has spread throughout her entire body and she cries out in pain, where is God?
He will make a way....
In the song that is included with this article, the words say it all for me.
"God will make a way...when there seems to be no way..
With love and strength for each new day."
Please try to find the time to listen to those words.
“I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much.”— Mother Teresa
He was here....a reminder that smack dab in the middle of our most frightening times we can find calm...
"Why, Lord, Why?"
Looking to the heavens cries of “ Why, Lord” can be heard? “Why? Why?”
And, the answer does not always come quickly. And for some it never comes.
And some will say--- “Where was HE? Your God?”
“How can YOUR God allow things like this to happen? How can he let the wars in all parts of the world happen?”
And, you. Have you ever thought about this question, alone, in the privacy of your own thoughts with no distraction? Have you ever questioned? If some devastating event has occurred in your life, have you ever questioned the reason and the why of what happened?
And, if you have, does that mean you are not a Christian? Does that mean you lack faith?
Or, does it mean simply mean that you are searching for answers?
He was Here When the Ashes of My Niece and Her Daddy were Scattered in Georgia a Few Days Ago
He is here in this garden just as He is on the battlefields of the world
Alone and afraid
There have been times in my lifetime when I have asked these same questions. I felt as if I was alone in a desert, wandering and without purpose. Confused and ashamed that I could not reconcile the God I have worshipped all of my life with things that were happening in the world.
I wanted answers. I did not want some Bible-speak either. I wanted answers that made sense to me. And there were none. Having grown up in the church and considering myself to be a Christian, these feelings, these questions were scrambling my brain and tearing me apart. I went through a period of two extremely, seemingly never-ending, wretched, horror-filled years about thirty years ago when I could no longer feel God. I read the Bible, I clung to it, in fact. But I did not feel His presence. I sent prayers to Him and again there was no connection. I did not feel the calm and peace that passes all understanding that I feel now when I converse with Him all hours of the day, every day. Where had He gone? He had absented Himself from my life just when I needed Him most.
In some infinitesimal way I have an inkling of how those who have devastating tragedy feel. What I felt was strangling me. It was the most frightened I had ever felt. I was reaching out and could no longer connect with the God in whom I had placed all of my trust.
He was here ...why can't we know that He does not desert us when the most horrible times come?
Does anyone know?
"That is all well and good," some voices may say. "But, there is still no answer why."
The truth is if you are asking me, I cannot tell you why and I do not believe that anyone on this planet can tell you why.
We can say: because God gives us free will so there are those who are evil and they will have the free will to do these horrid things.
Searching for answers
When I began writing about the questions that some of us have at some point, I researched to see what theologians say on this topic. Many of them pointed to passages in the Bible: Psalms 10 and 34 speak of how He will comfort and console but I wondered as I reread those passages...Did those whose lives were devastated by a tragedy understand as the events unfolded?
In the moments and days after a horrific event happens, a numbness, a surreal quality settles over the families. They want answers, they want to know WHY?
That does not mean that they turn away from God necessarily although some do. And some stay away forever. Many though, turn and run into God's arms asking for the strength to face their hour of greatest challenge, their hour of greatest loss, their hour of greatest pain. And, He is there. And, He will carry them over the worst times as He has carried me many times even when I was not able to hear His voice.
He was here....
Do you believe that questioning God is a sign of a lack of faith?
What do we do now?
We do not know God's purpose. Lives are stolen causing untold grief and sorrow. And we do not understand the reason.
But we are assured that He will "cause all things to work together for those who love God..." Romans 8:28.
As long as there is evil in the world bad things will happened. But we also know that God finds a way to cause goodness to come out of evil. We see so many examples of it it the wake of devastation. When Katrina hit, the outpouring of aid and giving was a way to begin healing for the part of our country who had been so badly damaged. Neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger, across the nation so many went to help and do for others.
In the wake of this latest tragedy that has torn apart families and caused so much sadness and pain, an outpouring of generosity has washed over the small Connecticut town. So many donations of food and gifts have been given that it was suggested that no more be sent. That the donations be given to those in our own hometowns to those in need. There was no where to store them. Large donations of monies too have been received. And thousands of cards and letters are being sent to offer some degree of comfort. These efforts do not change what happened. But they do lift the spirits of those who are suffering. Out of this tragedy love and caring emerge just as it does every time horror strikes. My only wish is that these things never ever happen again.
We need to get over the questions that focus on the past and on the pain--"why did this happen to me?"--and ask instead the question which opens doors to the future: "Now that this has happened, what shall I do about it?" These questions have been posed by Rabbi Harold Kushner as he considered how we should move forth. I really get that..."What shall I do about it?" As the H.O.W. movement continues to grow and awaken the desire to make changes, make a difference, answers to that question come.
He created this and was here on the day when this photograph was taken.
The Rev. Douglass Bailey was a minister who served in urban Memphis as pastor. He also helped to create urban ministries to help with the needs of the city. He has received humanitarian awards for his efforts.
Rev. Bailey tells us that the question of why has plagued mankind for all time. He says: "There are as many answers to this question as there are people who care to engage in theological dialogue. One understanding is that yes, God allows "bad" things to happen; God does not cause them to happen."
He continues: "Most "bad" things which happen do so because God gives a radical freedom to God's people; we are free people, not puppets on a string. But God does not cause "bad" things to happen. God loves us and grieves with us in our pain when "bad things" happen.
Therefore, we might best respond by saying that God does not Will "bad" things to happen in life. Rather, "bad" things happen in the freedom that comes with the gift of life. When "bad" things happen to any of God's children, God is grieved and suffers with us, experienced most vividly in the hurt and suffering of Jesus the Christ for all humanity. Any "bad" thing which happens is never the last word. Rather, God is the deepest and last word, and that word is love and eternal life with God."
It is an answer. Maybe not the one many would look for but it is an answer that makes sense. To me what he did not say is something that I believe. I believe it is by faith that we believe and know that God is in control and will see us through whatever we face. Just as Mother Teresa's words say in the opening quote...I wish He did not trust me so much." He does not give us more than we can handle. We may think we cannot but by faith we will find the courage to move forth.
He is here when two sisters are enjoying moments together.
Words of comfort and promise
In the readings that I came across as I sought to discover how others answer the question --Where was God? Where is God? I found one minister who gave the answer that made the most sense to me. He wrote...'I simply cannot tell you. I do not know."
He continued by adding that he does not know because he is not privy to all that God knows. He added that one day we will fully understand but we will not understand now.
In first Corinthians Chapter 13 verse 12 it is written: Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. New Living Translations
Those words may offer comfort and promise to some. They help me. For me, it is about trust and knowledge that He is here for me, for each of us. A promise that even though we are told that difficult, gut wrenching times come, He remains for us our source of strength and salvation. He never said our walk would be easy. He did promise to be here for us. Alll we need to do is reach out to Him.
Even when we go through periods of doubt and questioning, He remains the same Lord ready to catch us as we fall. And, to me, questioning means growth. If I do not question and seek to understand those things I wonder about, I feel that I do not grow. And, I know that answers will come and God will be in the midst of each answer.
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought..."— Matthew 6
If ever I do question, I remind myself that He never absents Himself from us. It is we who for a time absent ourselves from Him and often not by choice. In my case, I did not choose to lose God for the time that I did. It happened because I was unable to reach through the circumstances I found myself in to reconnect. I am so blessed that the dark period in my life passed and my connection was restored. I know that I would not have been able to face all of the challenges that knocked on my door over the years if it were not for His presence in my life.
A way to lift my spirits and restore any questions is to walk among the beauty of nature. It helps to calm any fear and reminds me of His wondrous love. I know that I will never know and understand all that comes our way not in this lifetime But I do know that God is always ready to life me up, to lift us up, as we face life's pain and struggles.
My mind returns to these words of assurance shared in the passage from Matthew.
And perhaps the writer was also thinking: give no thought to how you will be soothed in times of your greatest grief and pain.
And know that He is there in the times when we may find it the most difficult to hear Him. We must be still and listen.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Patricia Scott