“Where was God?” In the aftermath of the Parkland school tragedy, this question has been asked over and over in print, on television and on the internet. There have even been t-shirts printed up with a “Where was God?” logo.
Our culture increasingly subjects God to scorn and derision. When times are good, praise and thanks to Him are absent. It is politically incorrect to speak about God in our public discourse, and we have kicked Him out of our government and our schools. It is we who have completely distanced ourselves from God, and yet when tragedy strikes the first question is “Where was God?” The answer is that God was exactly where He always has been. Steadfast and faithful, the Rock of Ages, our loving Father waiting for us to return to Him. He waits for us to make the choice to choose Him. To love Him. To love His Word and to live according to it.
Faith in God is not a promise of a perfect, easy life. Faith in God is a promise of courage and endurance to face the pain, darkness and evil of this fallen world. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all. Psalm 34:18-19
But, you might ask, “why would God make a world where suffering and tragedy occur?” The answer is, “He didn’t.” The world God made for us was perfect. Genesis 1:31 tells us, God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. But man, of his own free will, chose to reject God and that rejection seeded the suffering and pain we endure today. It was man who turned the potential for evil into our present day reality. “Cursed is the ground because of [your sin]; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:17-19
It was a God of love and mercy who desired to give us His own Son so we would have a second chance at eternal life with Him. (John 3:16) And, to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12) As believers, we await the day when, He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4. And we know that someday all evil will be cast “into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41).
While we wait, Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “… In the world you will have suffering. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Yes, in this world bad things will happen to good people. There will be children who die, hearts that break, diseases that ravage, storms that devastate, fires that destroy, and evil that is always on the prowl for someone to devour. But there is a God in Heaven who can give us victory over that evil. The long-suffering Job tells us in 1:21 that the presence of tragedy in his life did not mean the absence of God. When the bad times come, like last week in Parkland, and they invariably will, God is there giving those who believe in Him the strength to stand against them.
Romans 8:28 says, And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. That doesn’t mean that everything will be good. It also does not mean that we will see that good today, or even in this lifetime. God’s promise is simple, if we are committed to Him, He will take our pain and suffering and fashion good out of it, in His time and according to His Will and purpose. God took the very worst event in the world, the death of His Son, Jesus Christ on the cross and turned it into salvation for all humankind. Today we need to trust that He will create good out of the tragedy at Parkland. C.S. Lewis once wrote, ““pain is God’s megaphone to a deaf world.” Today more than ever we need Jesus in our life. I cannot imagine how I could have survived my own tragedy without the hope of Jesus Christ in my life. God is calling us to witness to that Hope, for broken hearts in our own communities and beyond.
So, where was God? God was and is everywhere. He is sovereign Lord over all creation. He fills the heavens and the earth. He dwells in the high, holy place and in the hearts of the contrite and the lowly of spirit. (Isa 57:15) He was in the coach who shielded students with his own body and in the students who pulled one another to safety. God was in Parkland last week shedding tears of both sadness and grace on His children. And He is there today, filling hearts with healing and comfort.