Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. — 2 Peter 3:3-4
Most of us have asked this question at least once. The question is understandable, particularly with how difficult it is to imagine a loving God during times of enormous suffering. After all, if he loves us so much, how could he stand by while brutal acts of terrorism remain? Where is God to remove the progressive pain of racism and separatism that seem to plague and divide us as a society?
I must admit, I have often wondered, "Where was the hand of the Almighty God that could have prevented bad things from happening to good people?" I have questioned, "Why doesn’t he show up to intervene during those horrific, fatal accidents?"
I looked for him and even prayed to him, but many times, to my surprise, he was nowhere to be found.
Our nation is facing changing and challenging times. Our identity as a country seems to be progressing and evolving, while dividing us along racial, political and spiritual lines. These rifts seem to be growing deeper and wider with each generation. We witness the lack of respect for human life in the self-destruction of our inner cities and the extreme love of power and greed in corporate America.
Although the question of "where is God?" is puzzling and difficult to answer, I’ve come to realize that God wisely created humanity with the ability to choose. He does not force us into a relationship with him. He allows us to reject him and to commit other evil acts as well.
He could force us to be loving. He could force us to be good. But then what kind of relationship would we have with him? It would not be a relationship at all, but forced obedience. Instead, he gave us the dignity of free will.
Recently, I posed this question to a colleague and got an interesting response. He reminded me, the question is often asked when we discover ourselves in moments of personal pain. Rarely is it asked when things are going well.
He stated, "Perhaps people should consider that the reason things were going so well was because God was present in their lives to prevent and minimize many of tragedies that were headed their way."
Tragedies that never occurred because behind the scenes, the grace of God was present in their lives to prevent tragedy. Every time you were "lucky" that this or that didn’t occur, did you ever stop to consider that perhaps in that moment it wasn’t luck at all, but God who was there all the time?
And so if you ask me, "Where is God?" I will tell you what he said: "Behold, I stand at the door of your heart and knock, if you open the door, I will come in and engage in fellowship with you."
He wants to come in and give you a peace that can only be found by embracing his presence. He wants you to experience his love that can only be known through a relationship with him.
He will not force you to receive him, but he is patiently waiting for you. The evil in this world will never change, but he promises to be with us always.
Betton is the pastor of Cathedral of Praise Church Ministries and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.