Most of us can say that there are moments in our lives that we can recall with precise clarity. There are the wonderful moments. I clearly recall that life-changing wedding kiss delivered with breath-taking tenderness and full of the promises only love can bring. And, when the college president handed me my diploma and followed it with a warm hug to acknowledge how hard I’d worked and what I’d been through while earning it. My long, solo cross-country flight through Alaska’s rugged mountain passes towards earning my pilot’s license (Yay! I can do this by myself!). They each shifted my world-view enormously.
There are also those truly awful moments that come clearly to mind. My first was while working on math at my 6th-grade desk back in New Jersey. My teacher left the room (which was pretty rare), but then we all looked to the door in alarm as we could hear our teachers crying out in the hallway. Then, our principal’s voice came over the loudspeaker and said, “The President is dead.” School was over midday, and we all walked home, stunned, like the zombies they show in movies. My mother wiped away tears as she hugged us in greeting and further explained John F. Kennedy’s assassination. And, then I recall as a teenager when my mother called me during my work day at Neptune Grocery to inform me that my grandfather had just died. He was the first person I knew closely to pass away. And, then, around 5am on September 11, 2001 while getting ready for school, I stood transfixed in front of CNN’s videos of an airplane hitting the first World Trade Center tower. At that point, I felt sorry for the poor guy in a small plane who errantly flew into a floor of the building. Several minutes later, when the second plane hit the south tower, it clearly became an act of terrorism. And, I was terrified for our country and its citizens.
So, where was God in all of this? How could he let these terrible things happen? I often heard police officers use that as their excuse for not going to church anymore: they couldn’t believe in a God who would make the horrible things happen that they’d witnessed in their careers. Why would a real God let these monsters do these horrendous acts? And, then a few weeks ago, a relative despaired that God would make our niece’s 40-year-old husband suffer quickly advancing dementia and ALS. But, no! I don’t think that’s how God works!
I think God is right there with Ben and his family, and was with all those who lost their lives in the 9-11 attacks, was with my grandfather and with me when he passed, was with the Kennedys, and IS with all of us—always.
God’s there through the celebrations and the good times, and He’s there through the horrors and the bad times. He IS our rock of strength when we’re not feeling particularly strong. Even when we’re suffering and looking for respite, He’s there. We just need to lean back and rest in His arms and let Him carry us for awhile.
David expressed my own feelings more eloquently in 2 Samuel 22:2-4:
He said: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior… I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise….”
Moses recited the words of this song to Israel in Deuteronomy 32:3-4:
I will proclaim the name of the Lord, Oh, praise the greatness of our God. He is the Rock, his works are perfect and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
Jesus told us in John 14:19-21, 27:
…Because I live, you also will live. On that day, you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
I don’t think we Christians (yes, I’m definitely including myself!) do a very good job of sharing that hope that we have in Christ! We need to confidently speak words of encouragement: that God does not make bad things happen, but that he is there for us when those bad things do happen. He is always there, inside us, just waiting for us to call on Him.
Your friend in Christ,