The Psalmists wrote often of their disappointment in God in the midst of their struggles, discouragement, and suffering. Some write with out-right anger and hostility that God would “forget” them. Others write about the anguish in trying to find their way in a world where God seems absent; and so it is in the 21st century.
We encounter our own struggles, agony, pain, and suffering in life; and like our brothers and sisters of ancient Israel we ask: “Where’s God?” Philip Yancey in his book, “Where is God When it Hurts?” writes:
“Much of the suffering on our planet has come about because of two principles that God built into creation: a physical world that runs according to consistent natural laws, and human freedom. . . . Where is God when it hurts? He is in us – not in the things that hurt – helping to transform bad into good. We can safely say that God can bring good out of evil; we cannot say that God brings about the evil in hopes of producing good.” (p.65 and 111)
God is not a God who brings suffering our way as some cosmic test of faith and obedience, nor is God a God who delights in our suffering, waiting for God’s children to cry out for help. Where’s God when it Hurts? God is present, actively seeking ways to help turn our attention to God, seek God’s strength, and live in God’s hope; as Paul puts it, “hope will not disappoint us.” Jesus puts it this way: “ Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” (John 9:3)
Where’s God when it hurts? God is present in the community of faith that reaches out to bring healing and hope to the broken, disenfranchised, and distressed. Philip Yancey writes, “I believe God has given the church a mandate of representing his love to a suffering world. We usually think of the problem of pain as a question we ask of God, but it is also a question He asks of us. How do we respond to hurting people?” (p.10) As the community of faith partners with God we participate with God in healing a broken world.
I look forward to the days (years) ahead, sharing in ministry with you, as together we partner with God to bring healing and wholeness where pain and suffering overwhelm and distort the lives of God’s children!