Where Is God When We Suffer?
“As with a breaking of my bones, my enemies reproach me, while they say to me all day long, where is your God?" (Psalm 42:10). Adversaries often taunt those who believe in God; the Psalmist faced such derision and questioning. Others ask: “You have wearied the LORD with your words; Yet you say, in what way have we wearied Him? In that you say, everyone who does evil Is good in the sight of the LORD, And He delights in them, or where is the God of justice?" (Malachi 2:17). Even the people of God questioned what God was doing.
Where is God when a child suffers and dies? Where is God when tragedy strikes? These are not new questions. Those stricken with grief seek answers. Some ask in anger, but they still ask. Unbelievers ask: “Where is God,” using such questions as an excuse for not believing. A believer in anguish cries for help. The question: “Where is God,” can be an attack on the existence of His being. Sometimes, whether believer or not, the question poses a serious challenge to one’s trust and faith in an all-powerful God. Sometimes Christians wonder: “Well, I have been a faithful servant all these years; yet why am I now suffering?” Is “God a good God?” If so, why is there so much suffering in the world today? These are old and complex questions.
Perhaps we cannot think seriously about the question of suffering because we have not thought enough about the problem of suffering! That is, we wait until something bad happens to us and only then begin to try to unravel the mysteries and complexities of life. For example, have we thought deeply about God, His control of this world, and our trust (or lack of the same) in Him? If we have not thought deeply about suffering and about God and about our place in this common and human facet of life, then when tragedy does strike, we are sent reeling away from God in unbelief. We need to be exposed to God and His Son for our walk of life to be in step with divine will.
It may be that we don’t want to study about or think about suffering. After all, we want to live pleasant, prosperous lives that are free of pain and trouble. Such cannot be. "Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). So, before the storm clouds come, before the roof falls in, before our lives unravel in unbelief, let us try to think and study soberly about human suffering. We need to examine God’s role in this aspect of human existence. We need to know what our response at least can be when trouble strikes. Human suffering is not a neat and tidy subject; no clear-cut answers coming forth. Can we gain help from God’s word?