She asked the question so plainly, so earnestly, that it forced me to a halt.
I was in full-on leader mode, looking at the clock, consulting my notes, trying to bring our group discussion to a natural conclusion that would coincide with our self-appointed end time…and that all flew out of my head in the moment she asked the question.
The question that has been on my mind, and I’m sure on yours, from time to time, throughout these last six months.
As the numbers of COVID deaths rise, and the wildfires continue to burn; as the protests spread and the political barbs keep being thrown; as the radio waves and my Facebook feed get more venomous, more divisive, more contemptuous….where is God in all of this?
It’s a good question; and a fair one.
It’s also a brave question, when most of us are spending the days just trying to survive: to look outside of ourselves for even a minute to seek God.
And, finally, it is an old question; one that has been asked over and over since God first revealed God’s self to humanity.
If you take a quick tour through scripture, you’ll see the Israelites asking this from their chains in Egypt; from their exile in Babylon; from their oppression in the Roman empire. You’ll read about Job asking this of God: “where are you and what are you doing?” when he loses his children, his livestock, his property, in a seemingly senseless tragedy. You’ll watch the disciples ask it on the road to Emmaus, after burying their leader who was crucified on a cross.
And even beyond that, you’ll find it throughout church history, in the writings of the saints, the Desert Fathers and Mothers. Saint Ignatius of Loyola wrote it into a daily spiritual practice called the Examen that people still do engage with, asking themselves: where did I experience God today?
We keep asking it, because that’s what we are called to do, as Christians: to look for God in the midst of our suffering, in the midst of chaos; in the places where it seems impossible we might find God.
But perhaps we also ask because there isn’t just one answer.
“Where is God?” might have had a very different answer in March than it does right now.
On a sunny day than a rainy one.
When our hearts are full, and when they are broken.
So here’s the invitation: keep asking. Don’t be afraid to explore, or ashamed that you need to know. Ask yourself, and ask ones you love.
Where is God in all of this?
I don’t know what you will find, because I suspect that our answers would be different. But I do know this; scripture promises that when we look for God, “seek and you will find.”
So go! Look. And I am willing to bet, you will be surprised what you find. And who you find.