"Why, God?" A question I hear frequently in my line of work and in our world. "Why did God allow my father to abuse me?" "If God is good, why do children get shot in schools?" "Why do natural disasters destroy, devastate and kill if God could have controlled it?" "If God really cares why did my teenager kill himself?" "If God loves me why do I have cancer?" "If God is all powerful why didn't he stop the car accident?" We fixate on finding the answer to the "why?", believing that if we knew the reason it would somehow decrease the pain. We tell ourselves that if the reason is good enough the pain will somehow be more tolerable. So we scream a guttural "Why?" from a place in our soul that desperately wants to make sense of all the pain this world is capable of in hopes to understand.
I've watched this search in countless lives and unthinkable circumstances and have even had a few "why?" screaming moments of my own. I have discovered that the answer to the "why?", if one is found, is never enough to make the pain go away. No answer provides the relief, the comfort, the reasoning that we need to resolve the pain or dissipate our extreme need to scream "why?" and get an answer that would make it all okay again. The 'good enough' answer never comes and sometimes we can stay stuck in the perpetual cycle of asking "Why, God?"
I will never pretend to be able to explain away horrific abuse, catastrophic deaths, unthinkable disaster or the senseless loss of lives with spiritually inflated well meaning statements that are filled with trite theological explanations to minimize somebody else's greatest grief. Mostly because those things don't answer my "whys?" either. I have found that when we don't find satisfactory answers to our "why" it does affect us spiritually. It changes our perspective of God and we begin to look at Him through the lens of our circumstances and tragedy. We see Him through the lens of our own confusion and pain. And we begin to define Him as unloving, uncaring, distant or evil because that is what our circumstances are. Let's be clear: Anytime I am in the position of defining God, I am in the wrong position! God defines me. No matter what my circumstances or situation I do not define Him. So perhaps replacing our "Why, God?" which can lead us to distorted views of Him with, "Who is God?" or "Where is God?" would be a more productive question to spend our time and energy on.
I may not be able to explain away tragedy because of my belief in Him but I believe there is evidence of Him despite the tragedy. If we stop blaming Him for the bad news we might recognize that He is the good news. He is there. He was, He is and He always will be. I believe that He is deeply wounded when children are abused and I believe He grieves more deeply than we do when somebody takes their own life or the lives of others. I believe He wants and desires good things for us even though horrible things may be happening all around us. I believe that He doesn't change because of bad things happening and I believe that bad things happening don't change who He is. He is there. He is love. I think He can be found in a cancer diagnosis and in tornadic rubble if we choose to look for Him. I believe He is found in car crashes, human trafficking, and children being neglected. He is there because we are there. I think He is in bad marriages wanting us to see Him, find Him, utilize Him to make it better. I believe He lives in desperate situations and tragedies even if He didn't intervene to stop them. He loves. He gives. He is. Here. Now.
I don't know, why! I wish there were a good enough reason for all the pain this world is managing to produce. I don't know, why. I do know who. He is love. He is kind. He is good. He is just. He is forgiving. He is present. He is gracious and He is strength in our weakness. And I know where. He is here. Now. If we choose to see Him, He is everywhere. In the midst of pain, hurt, tragedy, death, grief, anger, and confusion, He is here. He is in every person racing to help. He is in every prayer and praise being lifted from hearts that want to know "why?" Because I know who and where and because there is so much tragedy around us, you can find me doing the only thing I know to do in situations like this. I am going to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn so that when the sun rises again I can rejoice with those who rejoice. (Romans 12:15) The "Why's" will continue, but while we reside in this place where all of our questions will never be answered I think reminding each other of who He is and where He is happens to be the best thing we can do. For ourselves and each other.