Where Was God?

By DANNY MINTON

During World War II, more than eleven Million undesirables and people of Jewish descent faced extermination by Nazi Germany.

People asked, “Why? Where was God?”

On April 20, 1999, two high school seniors walked into Columbine High School in Colorado and murdered twelve innocent students and one teacher.

People asked, “Why? Where was God?”

On September 11, 2001, four hijacked planes struck the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the fourth crashed in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Almost three thousand perished as a result, and another six thousand were injured.

People asked, “Why? Where was God?”

On Sunday morning, November 5, 2017, a man walked into the worship service of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and shot and killed twenty-six people and wounded twenty others. 

People asked, “Why? Where was God?”

A family loses a child, a job offer falls through, a good person is diagnosed with life-taking cancer, a tornado wipes out a town, and the list goes on of events that shake the foundation of our lives.

We ask, “Why? Where was God?”

Asking God “Why?” or “Where were you, God?” are questions we have all probably asked God at one time or another. Life is full of disappointments and tragedies that we have a hard time understanding why they happened. They are questions that have been around for centuries by the strongest of people of faith.

David, a man, described as “a man after God’s own heart,” faced many dark days. One of his darkest times occurs in Psalm 13. He writes, “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (NASB) To David, God seemed distant and not around when he needed him. 

In another place, the great prophet Elijah goes and hides in a cave when God comes to him and asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He responds, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19:10 (NASB) Elijah brings up the point that he has tried serving the Lord but to no avail. In a way, he’s saying, “Why? Where have you been?” 

Then there’s Jesus, who, as he faces death on the cross, carries the burden of the sins of mankind. At one point, this seems like his relationship with God is far off. In his suffering, he calls to the Father, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” As he hung on the cross for a brief time, he felt alone.

There are times in our lives that most if not all of us have felt like these three, alone and not understanding where God exists in our lives. We live good lives. We follow the Lord’s commands, treat people with kindness, pray several times a day, tithe, worship, and tell people about Jesus. Why then do we find times that we suffer when it appears the world around us prospers? We feel like Asaph, “ Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure And washed my hands in innocence; For I have been stricken all day long And chastened every morning.” Psalm 73:12-14 (NASB)

One of the wisest men to walk the face of the earth once felt the same way. He wrote, “There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility.” Ecclesiastes 8:14 (NASB)

So, where is God when things devastating things happen in our lives? The answer is simple, “He is right there with us.” When bad things happen, he will give us strength to hold on and keep moving forward if we allow Him. He comforts us in our sorrow, He encourages us when we are down, and He will guide our thoughts if we allow Him to work in and through us.

David, Elijah, and Jesus all knew God was still there, even when they questioned his whereabouts. David in the same Psalm says, “But I have trusted in Your loving kindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:5-6 (NASB) Elijah is instructed to stand outside the cave and recognizes God’s presence not through loud, grand events but a still small voice. And Jesus? Jesus, in his last words, proclaims, “Into your hands, I commit my spirit.”

The reason we ask, “Where was God,” remains in the fact that we may not be looking for him. We become so caught up in what is going wrong in our lives that we fail to realize the power we have right next to us. God never forsakes those who love and follow Him. When things go wrong, He is there to pick us up. We need to acknowledge his presence. God never promised that life would be perfect. He never promised that we would have a trouble-free existence. He did promise to be with us—God’s presence in our lives echos throughout the Old and New Testaments in various ways.

Throughout the Bible, his promise rings clear, just as he told the Israelites, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NASB)

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

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