Where is He when the pain is too much to bear?
Where is He when I need Him; when I can't handle any more?
Where is He?
If you've ever thought these questions, not even if you've expressed them out loud....just thought them; I want you to know something.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I probably said that louder then I meant to, so, sorry if I started you. I wanted to get your attention because I know where you are coming from. It's been awhile since I experienced the doubt and confusion of it, but I can plug right back in without trying very hard.
I was pondering it this morning in my quiet time because I know some folks in this place. I'm also reading through the Prophets as part of Bible in 90 days. (I can't wait to be done with these guys.) The Prophets addressed some serious situations, still those situations were self-made by the people of Israel. They'd been bad, turning from God, and had been that way for a LONG time.
Still, when the Judgement came, it wasn't pretty. A lot of people were killed, brutally. A lot were taken far from home and familiarity. Very few were left behind. It was an ugly time to be a Hebrew.
I think I can say with some authority that when serious trouble comes, by our own hand, or otherwise, we start to question God. Our confidence in His master plan starts to ebb. When things go sideways - tragedy, illness, destruction and all the other ways life knocks us down - it is really easy to ask where God is. Even the venerated father of suffering, Job, asked when the Lord was going to show up so he could plead his case before the Almighty Judge.
If I'm being honest here, and I am, I have asked these questions. I have silently screamed them into the cold, quiet, midnight darkness of my daughter's hospital room.
Where are you, Lord? When are you going to show up and do....SOMETHING!
Something, anything I can touch, taste, smell, feel or see to make this situation even minutely better then it is right now. I can't wait on ultimate redemption, I need relief NOW. And I want you to know: I didn't get an answer right then.
There was no audible voice, nothing falling off the wall, not rush of warmth. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Just the lonely beeping of the machines on the IV pole.
It took a few months but I did discover the eternal truth that God was there all along. Was I hopeless? I mean, without hope of God never showing up on my behalf?
No, never. Even as I was wordlessly venting my frustration, He was at work. He did work. He did heal. He did all He promised. I'm learning if I can just wait 5, 3 or even 1 more minute for God to act, He will. I can put my hope in Him. The Apostle Paul, writing His magnum opus to the Roman Church, had this to say about the kind of hope we have in Christ,
And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom 5:3-5, HCSB)
During my meditation this morning on those who might be asking where God is, I got an image in my head: a new coffee can. When you take off the top, there is a seal over it, locking in all the goodness. It is only when you peel back that seal when you get the rush of beautiful, fresh coffee smell. All the grounds are settled, undisturbed. You can see and smell the goodness.
But it is under the surface. You have to peel it back or you will never get to it. That's how it is with God when we are in pain. You have to remove the layer blocking us from His goodness. You have to humble yourself before Him, coming to Him for healing. You have to give Him your pain. He will not despise but honor it. (Psalm 51:17)
Our pain, our hurt is the seal on the coffee can. He is there waiting to be revealed under the layer of our brokenness. This is the answer to the question of where is God when we are hurting.
Once we peel back the layers, we discover the goodness of God and that He has been there with us all along.
Remember one more thing: it's Holy Week. It's a good time to take it all to the Cross because Christ has already been suffered for you! And believe in His power to work out everything for your good - because you love Him and are called for His purposes!