Our world is home to A LOT of suffering people right now. There is a growing list of nations which are in conflict and experiencing unrest at the moment. Danger and bloodshed are present in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, South Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Nigeria… the list goes on. There are 65 million people who’ve been forcibly displaced (the highest ever recorded in history). Injustice, violence, hunger, famine… where does it end?
We may be tempted to ask – “Where is God?” Where is God when a child is raped? Where is God when the bomb hits the hospital? Where is God when the raft of refugees capsizes and everyone drowns? Where is God?
Yesterday evening at supper our daughter Celeste asked her sister Talia the same question. “I can’t see God. Where is God?”
Is it all an elaborate joke? Is it a cruel plot on unsuspecting and simple minds?
I’ve been going through a book called Sapiens recently. It’s a book of world history by Yuval Noah Harari. It was highly recommended by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama. And there are a lot of really interesting observations and insights in the book.
But Harari is convinced God is a myth. A fiction. A convenient story to help hold fragile communities and societies together. His history of humanity is a history absent of a supreme spiritual being. He’s convinced we are alone and that religion, currency, nations, and even human rights are all myths.
Is he right? Where is God? When we are alone with our thoughts at night – are we convinced that God is real? Or do we suspect he may be a myth?
I’ll be heading out to East Africa on May 4th. I’ll be visiting and ministering alongside brothers and sisters from Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, and Kenya. The situations in many regions in this part of the world demand a very concrete and honest answer to this vital question: “Where is God?”
When you enter into the main church building (now a genocide memorial) in Nyamata, Rwanda housing the remains of 45,000 victims – you ask “Where is God?”. When you spend time listening to stories and then crying with traumatized refugees from South Sudan – you ask “Where is God?”. When you hold a child who was born with HIV – you ask “Where is God?”
But rather than coming up empty in response to this question – I’m convinced that this world and human history are filled with the knowledge and truth of the presence and actions of God. The origin of our universe, the existence of morals, the gift of the Bible, the stunning statistical “coincidences” which result in the razor-accurate functioning of our solar system and life on our planet, the person of Jesus Christ, the beautiful, sacrificial, and selfless life stories of the saints throughout history – they all loudly proclaim – “God is here!”
And rather than disproving the presence and reality of God – when I visit places of terrible injustice, pain, and suffering – the answer to the question of God’s presence becomes even more clear. If God isn’t real – why would I even care if a child is raped? Why would I care if a bomb hits a hospital? Why would I care if a raft of refugees sinks in the Mediterranean Sea? That response of burning pain in my chest points me back to God, to the inherent and eternal value of human beings, and to a system and to a structure of right and wrong that is consequential and demands a thorough examination and response.
Where is God?
He is here. He is in this place. He is with those who are suffering. He is active in this world. He is working miracles in lives all across this planet. And he calls out – “join me!” He proclaims “I am healing, I am restoring, I am building, I am redeeming, I am renovating, I am moving all things toward a beautiful conclusion, I am making all things new!”
And he calls out “Where are you?”
Some recommended additional reading on this subject: