Published September 14, 2010

Paul's Epistle...
"Where Is God?"

Where is God when bad things happen to good people?

Recently a large church building in our area burned to the ground. Investigators say lightning had struck the church's steeple-top cross, violently shattering it and setting the entire building ablaze.

Where was God in that? God was in the response. Church leaders and members, interviewed on TV, explained that the church is not the building. The church is the people, and, despite losing generations of memories in the old structure, they can rebuild. God was in their testimonies to the public and in the strengthening of their faith.

Where was God on 9/11? God was in the response. You'll recall there were many testimonies about people whose lives that day were spared because of "unexpected" or "unusual" things that had come up, which had delayed their trip that fateful morning to the World Trade Center towers. And many of them, in retrospect, credited God with sparing their lives. On TV, they boldly thanked God. Christian groups were among the first to offer aid and comfort to the victims' families. (You can read one such testimony here.)  God was in the response.

Where was God when hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, becoming the costliest natural disaster in American history? God could be found in the response. TV, again, captured many residents after the storm thanking God for sparing their lives, even if their properties were lost. Christian aid ministries played a key role in disaster relief. Many turned to God in a new way.

Where was God during the Lancaster County Amish Nickel Mines school shootings of October 2, 2006? Ten children were shot, and five of them died. God was in the response. The Amish became a testimony to the world of the power of Christian forgiveness and reconciliation, with the word spread throughout the world in news accounts, books and even TV movies. (See this report.)

Where was God during the major Haiti 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010, an earthquake that left 230,000 dead, 300,000 injured and more than a million homeless? God was in the response. Missionaries in the area — and the influx of additional missionaries from church aid organizations — found many souls come to a saving knowledge of Christ as the result. They had lost it all. Now they found it all! God was in the response.

God was not in the fire, in the wind or in the earthquake. He was in what came afterwards. Come to think of it, this is exactly what Elijah found when he wanted to speak to God in 1 Kings 19. The Lord passed by him with a great wind strong enough to break rocks on the mountainside. Then there was an earthquake. Then a fire. But God wasn't in any of them. Then -- after all those terrible demonstrations of God's power — God Himself came to Elijah in the form of a "still small voice."

It is just when we see terrible things happening, things that inspire fear and awe, that the door is opened for us to listen in a new way for God's "still small voice" and to hear what He is trying to tell us and learn what He wants to do through us.

"Bad" things certainly do happen to "good" people. Christians are not immunized against seemingly bad things happening. Christ said that in this world we would have tribulation. But he quickly added, "be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

Even when bad things happen, the Christian can find comfort in God. After all, true faith tested is true faith strengthened.

Look what happened to Job. Bad things certainly happened to him. This wealthy and blessed man lost everything but his life. But he was faithful to God. He passed the test with flying colors. And God responded by blessing Job with twice what he had before.

When bad things happen to you, is God in your response?

Our response to bad things happening in our lives should be the same as God's. As they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Don't dwell on the bad things. Dwell on the good that can come out of whatever has happened. And you'll find God there, doing what He always does for believers — working all things together for good, giving you a chance to testify to His faithfulness, and giving Him a chance to bless you for your faithful response.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

- Paul

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