What would you say to someone that asked you where God was when they suffered a traumatic loss or some sort of violent tragedy? How would you show a reverent love for God and compassion for your grieving neighbor? How would you support what you’re saying with what God has revealed to Himself about us? This commenter disgracefully shows us how to disregard love, scripture, and compassion in one fatal fell swoop (S/N: reformed Christians that are young in their faith don’t seem to have a clue what compassion, grace, or sympathy are. It’s a serious problem, y’all. I digress….)
So, where was God? I immediately think of John 11:35, the shortest verse in the bible, “Jesus wept”. Jesus was weeping in this moment due to the passing of his friend, Lazarus. Isaiah 53, written roughly 700 years before Jesus entered creation, predicts Him in His humanity as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. His own family thought Him a madman, He had no home to rest His head, those closest to Him all abandoned Him when He needed them the most, and the people of own tribe were constantly plotting to have Him murdered. Jesus was witness to much disease and death, and also to the oppression of the tax collecting Jews and Romans.
The notion that God does not understand our pain is off the mark. Jesus felt it firsthand. It was so bad near the end of His life, that He got hematidrosis, a very rare condition where humans sweat blood. All the way back then, God was with us in the form of Jesus, entering into our suffering and showing love and compassion for us when we had none for Him.
So, is God not all powerful? Could He not stop the murderer, rapist, sexual molester, or other heinous criminal? Yes, God could stop all of that. We long for the day when all of the pain and suffering of the world is finally put to death itself. This is where Jesus in His divinity steps in, because there does indeed come a reckoning for sin. The debt owed for that sin is death (Genesis 2:17 / Romans 6:23). All of us fall short of God’s righteousness in some way, and because of the chasm it creates, we don’t have peace with God. In short, we all deserve the death penalty. None of us has offered God, who lacks nothing, something to deserve the blessing of life or the comforts of it. If God again wiped the world clean of all of us, it would still be justice, but He instead shows grace.
What is God doing about all this pain if He has the power to stop it and understands how it feels? God is 2,000 years ago entering His creation as the man, Jesus Christ and living the perfect life and offering up the perfect sacrifice, which was His own life. God is rescuing the rebels, the very people who hate Him and love sin, and reeling them in to be His hands and feet, the very ambassadors of the message of reconciliation with God. God is showing us that there will be justice and that our pain is not in vain.
Paul, a man who was at the execution of the first Christian martyr was used as a prime example of this. This man went from persecuting and killing Christians to writing the vast majority of the New Testament. That’s what Jesus is doing with and through the rebels. Paul, along with all the other apostles lived incredibly difficult lives. All but one faced execution, and yet they still went on empowered by what Christ has done in them and is still doing in the world now.
To anyone that would ask me where I think God is in their suffering, I say let me grieve for you and with you in your sorrow. Let me be there for you and try to comfort you. Let me attempt to meet you in your pain the way Christ came and met us in our pain all those years ago. Let’s not pretend there are simple answers and we should just smile through our sorrows, denying the limits of our humanity. Jesus wept in his Humanity, but in power, made a way for peace, justice, and restoration. He’s still doing that today.
This is but an overview: many that are wiser and more mature have already said a lot more than I have, but here are a few recommendations:
If you have five minutes, watch this:
If you have an hour, watch this: