The text arrived on my phone about 3 this Monday afternoon and read: “So where was God when the bombs went off in Boston?”
In God’s Word we find many accounts of atrocities like the brutal terrorist attack at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Exactly why does Scripture include these horrific stories? Shouldn’t the story of God be full of good, nice, peaceful people living in complete harmony?
We live in a world that since the beginning has been marked by sin – the willful rejection of God at the center. Instead we strive to be in control, to “have it my way.” The cumulative effects of generational rejection of God and the selfish demand to be in charge has resulted in escalating violence, relationship failures, substance abuse, entitlements, empire building, – and the list could go on. This afternoon we witnessed the consequences of living in a broken world: horrific bloodshed perpetrated by humans against other humans all made in God’s image. But God was there.
God does not ignore the results of sin. He’s not a bystander nor is he too busy to be bothered. The Easter story, which we just celebrated a couple of weeks ago, is ultimately the account of God stepping into our suffering. He does not leave us alone but enters into the pain, confusion, and grief with us. Jesus lived on this earth. Jesus suffered extreme poverty. Jesus experienced prejudice, rejection, and death. We are not alone.
The Sons of Korah were the sacred song writers of Israel’s golden age who recognized the presence of God in the middle of trouble. In Psalm 46 their lyrics include: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
God is always present – never absent. He joins us in our suffering.
Where was God when the bombs when exploded? Right there in the middle of broken bones, sheared-off limbs, bloodied faces, and shredded skin. Right there with common people who took off their shirts and belts and jackets to stem the flow of blood. Right there with the first responders and EMT professionals. Even as I write this, God is in the surgical suites, hospital rooms, and funeral director’s offices. He has not abandoned us.
“The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Ps 46:11