Where is God when I need Him the most? Where is God when I am hurting and have nowhere to turn? Why do bad things happen, and God does not do anything to stop it? Does God really care about me?
These questions are real! These questions are the type of questions that many will ask when something tragic takes place. The loss of a loved one, the death of a child, a major catastrophe, etc. all of these types of events cause many to question if God is a loving and caring God, and sadly some have fallen away because they are unable to answer this question.
Where is God when bad things happen? First, we need to be able to distinguish if there is a difference in good and bad. If there is a bad then there must be a good, and if there is good and bad then where is the moral standard for both? God’s Word! God has delivered His Word in order to inform us of the good that He supplies. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17 KJV). God is the giver of those things that are good, as a matter of fact, the context of James 1 is the explanation that God cannot be tempted with evil and does not tempt others with evil (James 1:13). Therefore, when bad things happen, they do not happen because of God.
But why do bad things happen? Bad things happen because evil does exist in this world. When mankind disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, sin entered into the world, and just as God promised “you shall surely die,” (Gen. 2:16) mankind has had to learn the hard way that God was right, and we do die. With the sin that man committed came the curses of pain and suffering, sickness and sorrow (Gen. 3:14ff.), not because God changed but because man had separated himself from God.
Where is God when I need Him the most? It is a fallacy on our part to think that God is not available when we are under duress, pain, and suffering. “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry” (Psalm 34:15 KJV). God is “the God of all comfort” and “comforts us in our tribulation” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). When we need God the most, God is listening, comforting, caring, and providing.
God provides “the peace that passes all understanding” which is made available to us when we go to Him in prayer (Phil. 4:6-7). Not only does God provide peace through consulting Him in prayer, but He also provides peace through the church. It is the church that is to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:1), and it is the “effectual fervent prayer” of the righteous that “prevails much” (James 5:17). We can have “confidence” that God will hear our prayers (1 John 5:14) when we are suffering.
What is my response to pain and suffering? Knowing that God is the giver of all good and perfect gifts, and that His peace is offered to me when I am in need, the only response I can have to pain, and suffering is to trust in Him. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6 KJV). When Job was faced with trials and suffering, he trusted in the Lord (Job 1:21). When Paul asked earnestly for the Lord to remove his pain and suffering (“thorn in the flesh”) he trusted in the Lord’s grace that was sufficient for him (2 Cor 12:9). When Jesus was about to face death on the cross, and He was grieved to the point of sweating blood and asking three times that the “cup” pass from Him, He trusted that the Lord’s will would be done (Luke 22:42ff.).
When we are facing trials and tribulations that seem too heavy to bear, we must trust in the Lord, and the Lord that provides the good, will provide peace in the pain. God has sent His Son to endure our ultimate pain and suffering so we will not “perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). We will not make it out of this world alive, but God has promised rest to those that trust in Him.
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:3–7 KJV)