“With everything that’s happened to you in your life, I have to ask, have you not ever wondered that if your God is so good where was He when all these things happened?”
A man asked me this a few weeks ago after I shared a small portion of my testimony and as a spur of the moment response I did my best to explain to him the whole “we live in a fallen world where God has given us free will” answer. This response is true, but I don’t feel it is a complete answer for me.
You see, lately I have been working through some grief from a loss in my life and last week my pastor and his wife encouraged me to study the 30th through the 60th Psalm. Something I’ve read many times before but that really stood out to me this time was verse 42:3: “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” King David himself had people ask him this very question and I don’t see him giving a theological explanation regarding it–he asks God for help with his sorrow, he remembers the good that God had done him, and offers praise to Him.
So to answer this question, I’ll tell you where God was when all these things happened:
-When my grandmother (who was raised in the church) decided she would no longer live in the Apostolic faith–nor would she tell anyone in the family about it so that her progeny wouldn’t either–God orchestrated a meeting between an aunt from the other side of my family and an Apostolic preacher she would eventually marry. This man would lead my family to the truth. As a result I would be born into the church and raised knowing God my entire life.
-When my parents (by birth) backslid, God allowed bad financial circumstances that would force us to move from our home in Las Vegas to a small town in Idaho where we would get back into church. Here I would meet the man whom I remember as my first pastor–a man who would years later have a very profound impact on my life.
-When I faced abuse as a child, I had a pastor and church family that showed me not only God’s love, but was the embodiment of that love. Despite trying, they could not help the situation; however, in every way possible they showed me how Jesus would never leave me and gave me a Bible that would be a stronghold for me in years to come. I also had a radio that I would listen to every moment possible, where at any time I could hear praises sung to God and know that there was a God in Heaven who loved me and Who was looking out for me.
-When I was made to do forced labor as a child, there were always people who would offer small gestures of kindness: one woman invited me into her home for tea and cookies, others would buy me drinks or food. Many paid for trinkets they never needed but gave anyway to help a girl in desperate need.
-When my family backslid again, we became homeless and had to move across the country to live with relatives–where we ended up in a town with yet another amazing Apostolic church. I would once again meet people who would deeply affect my life. One of those people was a woman named Sis. Susan–this woman would be the one who prayed with me til I received the Holy Ghost, who would become a mentor to me and an example of Christ who I would remember for years to come. Her husband and father-in-law, who was my pastor, would also be the ones to baptize me in the name of Jesus. I received the gift of salvation here.
-When my parents divorced and backslid yet again, I had the Bible with me that was given to me by a former Sunday School teacher. This Bible would be a constant reminder to me through all of it that Jesus would never leave my side. When I had no support this book became my connection to the One who would never fail me.
-When I was eleven years old and told that everything I believed growing up was wrong, God was patient with me and helped me see over the years what truth really is. He also was faithful to keep me until I was old enough to get back into church on my own.
-When I was thirteen and in the hospital literally dying from blood loss, the doctor said, “There is no possible explanation for why she is alive. It is impossible.” But God in all His sovereignty met me in that hospital room that night where I prayed, “God, I can’t die unsaved. If You will heal me, I will get back into church as soon as I’m old enough to go on my own.” He healed me of my bleeding disorder and today I am a blood donor which has given me the opportunity to share my story of God’s miraculous healing in my life.
-When I was in middle school and had no father in the home, God put a father-figure in my life. He would encourage me (as well as many other young people) to do well in school, get a good education and job, and better yourself. He and his wife are still in my life today.
-When I was in high school and struggled with suicidal thoughts and considered giving up completely, I was moved into a home just down the street from an Apostolic church. This would be the church where I dedicated my life back to God and fulfilled my promise from years earlier to get back in as soon as I could. He healed me from these thoughts and gave me reason to live.
-When family members disowned me for living for God, a pastor and his wife took me in and called me their own. I would find family, my beginnings in ministry, and all of the opportunities and blessings I have in life today from this point.
-When I was going through other losses in life, God brought me the man I would marry. I also received the blessing of attending his church and having a second church family. From here I was able to sit under another amazing man and woman of God who showed so much love to me, and since their retirement am blessed to sit under yet another wonderful pastoral couple.
So to this man, who only heard a small portion of my testimony (an even smaller part than I summed up in this post), the statements I highlighted in bold letters were what he heard. What he focused on was the negative things that happened to me and he didn’t understand why I felt that God was so good to me throughout my life. I think Mr. Rogers (you know, from the neighborhood) had an experience that can help explain it:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
This man who asked me, “if God is so good where was He when all this stuff happened,” saw the “disaster”. He didn’t see the helpers. He didn’t focus on the people or situations God would send to get me through. He didn’t focus on how God was there–oh, He was there–helping me make it through every situation. Because it is true, we live in a fallen world where God has given us each the free will to do as we please. And that free will sometimes results in sin that hurts ourselves and others. But through that, God provides help.
So God wasn’t deserting me in the hard times. He wasn’t turning a blind eye. He didn’t forsake me. He didn’t fail me. He stuck by my side. He gave me hope. He put people in my life–whether they were pastors, Sunday School teachers, father-figures, church people, radio artists, strangers who had compassion on a child–He always had someone there to help.
So where is God when it hurts? Right there next to you, hurting with you and also helping you through it.
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” -John 14:18
“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” -Hebrews 13:5c
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” -Psalm 27:10
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” -II Peter 3:9
“For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.” -Psalm 31:22