I’ve heard it asked so many times. Someone experiences a tragedy. Something terrible has happened. A person asks, “Where is God?” Then they spend the rest of their life and/or countless number of years blaming God for what happened to them. They wonder what the Almighty God was doing when their difficulties hit the fan.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
The Book of Job is an example of suffering in the Old Testament. As a brief summary, Job was a wealthy righteous man who was afflicted when he lost his riches, family, and became covered with sores. At that time, it was the custom of the people to believe that suffering was given as a punishment from God. Therefore when a person encountered a tragedy, people would search for what grave sin a person or their family had committed. But the lesson contained in this Divinely inspired Book of Job is that suffering can happen to the righteous as well as the unrighteous. In fact, although God doesn’t cause suffering, He can sometimes allow it as a spiritual test and to help strengthen someone. There is a quote going around on the internet that states: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” My Mom always likes to call it, “The School of Hard Knocks.”
What’s the point?
So if something bad happens what is God trying to do? Where is God? Though no one can know the mind of God, sometimes people miss the whole point of why Jesus suffered, died, and was resurrected. He came to help us through this life–not to contribute to the difficulties. The crap that we encounter comes naturally as a result of being part of an imperfect world. Suffering and difficulties are the consequence of original sin (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1521). Sin entered the world when God, out of love, gave mankind choices. True love involves being able to choose. We can accept Him or reject Him. We can do His way or our own way. It is that simple. A priest friend of mine once told me “God is not pushy.” Some have tried to purposefully block God out of their lives, their homes, their communities, and their countries. So when we ask where is God, we must also ask where we have put Him.
‘Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.’ Although man can forget God or reject Him, He never ceases to call every man to seek Him, so as to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands of many every effort of intellect, sound will, ‘an upright heart,’ as well as the witness of others who teach Him to seek God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 30).
The true fact of the matter is that God calls man first (CCC, 2567). In other words, no matter how long and how hard one has been searching, God has been searching first.
Some of life is a Dark Night of the Soul
People ask: “I can’t see God, I can’t hear God, I can’t feel God — how do I know that He is here?” However trite it might sound, this is what faith is all about. Faith is a gift. We all have a chance at this gift. It is not that some get it and others don’t. It is freely offered to everyone. Immediately what comes to my mind is that everyone is invited to go to Mass where one can indeed see, hear, and feel God. One can even “taste and see” through the Eucharist. This is because Catholics believe that Jesus is really present in the bread and wine which becomes His Body and Blood through the consecration.
In addition to the Sacraments, people can also encounter God through prayer, other people, and in nature.
So where is God?
He was on the Cross. It is not like God can be bound by time. But his crucifixion happened for each one of us. Even through our own individual difficulties, He is there suffering and dying for us.
While to the general public Easter might represent a candy sale at the local department store, the true message is profound and yet simple. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. On the third day He rose from the dead. His Resurrection is His victory and our hope.
The above video is of a song entitled, You Were on the Cross, by Matt Maher from his CD/DVD Alive Again. This song is particularly appropriate for Lent as we contemplate and meditate on the Passion of Jesus.