Where is God?

I’m a churchgoing Christian. I believe in God and my wife and I have made a commitment to raise our children in the church.

But, like many, I still struggle with my faith from time to time.

And that faith is tested most whenever I see a natural disaster like a hurricane take lives or wildfires rip through communities, killing people and destroying homes and livelihoods or when a person murders dozens in an extreme act of violence. Those types of events seem to take place with alarming frequency these days and it makes me wonder something — where is God in those moments?

I don’t want to sound sacrilegious but I sometimes truly wonder where God is when these horrible, awful, painful things happen to good people, many of whom are God-fearing believers. Is God aware of what’s happening? Does He not care? Does he see what’s happening and do nothing to stop it? When we see unfettered violence and destruction, we feel lonely and depressed. Nothing makes sense. There are no answers and it’s at those times that we often turn to God.

This must be a struggle for many people because pastor at my church address it often, as we witness a massacre in Las Vegas, a crisis in California and hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. People wonder why these terrible things occur if God is there for us, to protect us and keep us safe. It doesn’t make sense that such pain and suffering can befall people under the watchful eyes of a benevolent God.

This past week one pastor said she believes that we are God’s answer to these seemingly endless troubles, through our ability to love and care for our common man. In her opinion, it is humanity as a whole that comprises God’s response to crises that unfold in our midst, as we seek to help those in need and work to mitigate these things from happening again. In the words of another pastor at our church, it’s as if God is the owner of the planet, but He allows us to manage it. Sometimes when these tragedy’s happen, I wonder if allowing humanity to manage anything is a good idea.

Questioning the presence of a omnipotent deity at times of trouble is a natural human response. If God was so loving, why would these things occur, people might ask. It’s not as if we don’t all have free will to do what we want, when we want and inevitably a portion of society will decide to commit evil, atrocious acts. God is not going to reach down from the heavens and smack an assault rifle out of someone’s hands before he goes on a rampage or unleash a huge breath on a wildfire seconds before it engulfs homes. That’s not the way God works. But it would be nice if he did.

Religion is a challenging topic. I grew up attending Catholic school and was indoctrinated into the church long before I had the mental acuity to question whether I wanted to be a believer. As I got older I still attended church but began to become more skeptical — was the belief in an all-knowing, all-powerful God akin to early man believing in a god for the elements and every other unexplained phenomenon on earth? Was religion simply a way to control the masses? Were the stories in the Bible really true of simply fascinating works of fiction meant to give meaning to our lives and provide an antidote to the struggles faced by the vast majority of people?

There are no easy answers to these questions and it boils down to faith, in terms of accepting God into our lives. As we each person must make that choice on their own, we also must each wrestle with the pain and suffering inherent in the world and figure out what we believe about why it happens and how God, if we believe in Him, responds to it.

(Photo credit: USDAgov via Foter.com / CC BY)


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