Personally, I know many who are enduring sadness and hardship as they welcome Spring. A young friend has been fighting for his life in an Intensive Care Unit for weeks. A friend’s small grandchild is struggling with a life-altering diagnosis and treatment. A grandmother fell, a fellow journalist suddenly died, a friend’s sister has inoperable cancer, another is battling Alzheimer’s and yet another is facing surgery.
My prayer list is long, and as I pray, I realize I am doing a lot of begging, pleading and stomping my feet. Where is God when we need him to heal all the suffering, stop the pain and end the sadness? Just where is God?
I sincerely believe he tells us every Spring, that even in this oft-dreary old world he remains new, present and relevant. We concede we do not yet live in paradise, but when we behold the beauty of Spring, we do see a glimpse of heaven. God’s home is the only place where suffering is non-existent, Spring is eternal and tears are gone, if only we believe.
This morning I awoke to the news that three predominantly African American churches in Louisiana burned to the ground. I have no proof as I write this that these were race-related arson attacks, but it does sound suspiciously sinister. Prejudice is pure, unadulterated evil. Why isn’t God stopping racism? Where was God when his Holy place of worship was burning? Why isn’t God dousing the flames of hatred?
My spirit tells me God was there shedding tears while evil burned his church. God was standing beside the firemen and parishioners, comforting them as they confronted destruction. He knows how the fires began, and he will oversee how it all ends. He also will whisper strength into his flock reminding them, “A mere fire cannot destroy faith.”
God reminds us every Spring through the colorful blooms sprouting from frozen ground and trees bursting with new green, that he is still near to love and guide us through the trials and tribulations we suffer here on this earth. There are a lot of folks who choose not to believe in God or put aside his teachings because they wonder how any God could allow so much heartache in our world.
I instead wonder how anyone could endure such suffering without knowing God? Most of the folks I have met who don’t believe in a higher power deem they are the intellects of the world. What they fail to realize is their intelligence is about as broad as a speck of dust compared to that of God’s. I gave up trying to understand the mind of The Almighty a long time ago, and instead acquiesce to his almighty brilliance. Seems a whole lot easier that way.
As we move into Holy Week, we must remember that God’s child walked among us and endured tremendous suffering. Jesus showed us he could cure the sick, heal the lame and render miracles, but he gave his life for us. He taught us how evil can kill, hate can consume and sin can destroy.
God’s son shed his blood and died on a cross on Friday, but Easter Sunday tells us God never left and gives us the assurance that in the end, evil will be destroyed. Easter teaches us the great healer and comforter is still among us, standing beside the sick child, the young man who is in pain and the grandmother who will soon see his face.
A lot of people assume the world is doomed. How can the world be doomed if we believe in life, in love, in forgiveness and in God? Maybe we just need to practice all his teachings of love, life and forgiveness a bit better. Should we travel to Louisiana and rebuild those churches for our fellow brothers and sisters? Should we encourage, pray for and support those who are ill and suffering? Perhaps we need to find a bit of the valor Christ exemplified as he suffered on the cross. Maybe if we show the world godliness the world will clearly see God.
Is it up to God to physically extinguish the flames of suffering or is God pushing the believer to get the hose? We do not live in paradise, and until we do, we must endure the pain of our lives here. In order to calm our fears, we use our faith, love each other and combat the hatred lurking in our hearts.
Miracles still occur, prayer continually works, flowers again bloom and long after we leave this earth, God will still be creating a new, glorious spring.
Where is God? Just walk outside and look around.