Where is God?

Click here to listen to the audio of this 11-minute message. Or watch the video below.

During difficult times, such as we experiencing now with the Coronavirus, many of us find ourselves asking, “Where is God?” And even, “How can God allow such suffering in the world?”

This question is formally called ‘theodicy’ – the doctrine of how a good God can allow evil in the world. Theologians have grappled with this question for centuries. Augustine generated a solution that is widely accepted by the church, illustrated in the graphic below (from https://www.slideshare.net/SharanpreetKaur/augustines-theodicy).

2020.03.29_augustines-theodicy-3-638

But such answers provide little comfort when we are in the midst of suffering. These are intellectual and theological answers, not pastoral answers. Over the years, as I have grappled with this question in my own sufferings and particularly in responding to the suffering of others, I have reached two main conclusions:

First, God is always immanently present in our suffering. When God the Son incarnated into the human named Jesus of Nazareth, God fully entered into the human experience, with all its ups and downs. Ultimately, God experienced even death, on the cross, an experience God had not had until this moment. We read in John 11 of Jesus’ grief at the grave of Lazarus – he was genuinely distressed and saddened by the death of his friend and by his witnessing of the grief of Lazarus’ family.

Jesus was then, and always is, present in the midst of suffering. Where is God? He is right here, sharing our grief and pain, standing with us in the darkest of times. He is by no means far off and emotionally disengaged.

Second, while this is usually of little comfort in the midst of suffering, God repeatedly shows the capacity for bringing good out of bad. This does not make the bad good. No! The bad remains bad. But god has the capacity to give birth to good through bad. Paul assures of this in Romans 8:28, when he writes, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We this most dramatically on the cross. Humanity murdered, executed God the Son. This was a fundamentally bad and depraved thing we did. And yet through this, God gave birth to salvation for humankind, reconciliation and forgiveness for all who would seize it.

God is always working to bring good out of bad, giving us the capacity to transform darkness into light. This is not about persuading ourselves that a bad thing is actually good, but rather about being open to something good emerging out of the bad.

As we continue to journey through the crisis of COVID-19, which looks set to get worse before it gets better, I encourage you to keep turning towards God. I encourage you to ask the “Where is God?” question, because God wants to engage us honestly and sincerely with this tough question.

May God journey closely with you during this difficult time.

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6 thoughts on “Where is God?

  1. Tlhogi says:

    Amen, Thank you Father

    Liked by 1 person

  2. edingight says:

    Thank you Adrian. I suspect that you might be missing your church as much as we are missing ours. Sunday mornings – at church – is such an important part of our week.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Adrian. Your sermon is a great comfort. Stay well. Blessings Pat

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John Bewsey says:

    Hi Adrian

    Thank you for your quiet and calm discussion on the question that many people must be asking.

    However, as an engineer and a scientist I wish that the church would lay the blame – at least in part – in the direction that I think makes the most sense by rather asking “Where is Satan in all of this?”.

    If one draws the curve for y = 1/x we get a sort of mirror image of x = 0 to ∞ and x = 0 to -∞. In my book, God works from 10³ to +∞, man seems to do good from 10³ through 0 and bad to -10³, while Satan takes the curve down to -∞.

    So here we can see that Satan has created the Corona Virus – by definition it can’t do any good and is only bad waiting to happen (God is surely not there) and man did wrong by eating very scarce and forbidden food in the form of precious wild life – pangolins. So Satan achieved his objective – which is not primarily to harm mankind but to hurt God who made man in His image and loves him dearly – so dearly that Jesus even died trying to communicate with this same mankind.

    So the real question to ask is where is Satan in all the things that go wrong in the world – God made us and everything around about us – He can’t not be with us in all circumstances; Satan is, thus, at the bottom of all that goes wrong – we just facilitate his plans by letting him in.

    Regards

    John Bewsey

    Liked by 1 person

    • John, my apologies for not responding to your thought-provoking message at the time. It has sat in my thoughts since you sent it, percolating. And manifested in my recent message, “Being Church – Being Loved”. I think you are right to define COVID as the work or agent of Satan, and that we need to regard it as something to be overcome, empowered by God’s Spirit. Thank you! Adrian

      Like

  5. Genevieve Geekie says:

    Thank you, dear Adrian

    XxXx

    Gen

    On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 5:08 AM Reflections of God’s Love wrote:

    > Adrian van Breda posted: “Click here to listen to the audio of this > 11-minute message. Or watch the video below. During difficult times, such > as we experiencing now with the Coronavirus, many of us find ourselves > asking, “Where is God?” And even, “How can God allow such sufferi” >

    Liked by 1 person

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