I remember when we lost everything.
With the loss of my job, we lost an entire community of support. We lost our health insurance, and our house. We lost our friends, and our ekklesiastical family. I guess they were busy dancing beneath the “One in Christ” banner at the local Christian music festival.
And in this loss, so too died my faith that God answered prayer. On bended knees, I had pleaded for His merciful presence. I claimed the happy verses; the passages that declared me redeemed and forgiven and restored in Christ. But my experience left me meeting a different reality.
So where is God when it hurts? The age-old problem of evil and human suffering and the debate of His Sovereignty, etc. is not something that this blog entry is going to conquer. Rather, I write to instill a few alternative options in viewing His presence:
1. God shows up in the most unlikely ways. He shows up spitting in mud and healing the blind man. He shows up speaking through donkeys and in the nakedness of an infant baby. He appears in the thunder and lightening and in the calm before the storm. He screams in a whisper, and whispers through the prophets. He triumphs by shutting the mouths of the lions, and appears as the fourth man in the fiery furnace.
God is present with a suffering humanity by His own journey to an execution stake. He knows the pain of betrayal. He knows the sting of divorce. He has felt the cheers of the crowd one minute, and the letters written from professional religious people to the judge – the next.
2. God shows up through the most unlikely of people. The King of Glory appears in the face of “Happy” the homeless man I met here on the streets of Asheville. Jesus said, “whenever you give a cold cup of water in my Name, you’ve given it to me…” – Consequently, Jesus can be found among the often overlooked, least of these. He shows up in a wheel chair, playing the harmonica and spreading joy to any soul within earshot.
God meets us in the pain, when you least expect it. Just when you thought He had forgotten you, He calls your name in the October wind. He taps you on the shoulder and offers a hug of comfort from a stranger on the street.
He shows up in the mail box with food stamps to feed your children.