Where is God in suffering?
How long, O Lord? Psalm 13 opens with this question which I find fitting for our current situation.
How long is this going to last? How long are we going to be asked to neglect our need to socialize?
How long until we can visit our loved ones who live in care facilities?
How long until we can assemble in person for worship?
How long, O Lord?
The trouble is, we don’t know. The strain of coronavirus that is tearing through the world right now is completely new to human beings, meaning no one is immune, and there is currently no cure.
The only tool we have to slow the spread is washing our hands thoroughly and often, staying home as much as we possibly can, and keeping our distance if we must go somewhere.
So where is God in all of this? This is the question on many faithful people’s minds.
It’s an age-old question in the face of suffering. If God is all-powerful, why does God let something like this happen?
Unfortunately, we don’t an answer to this question, though as Christians, the closest we come to one is to look to Jesus. The person of Jesus Christ is where God is most fully revealed to us. So what do we see? In Christ, we see how God responds to suffering. God doesn’t provide us with some magic potion or secret code that allows us to avoid suffering or an answer key to rationalize why it exists. Rather, God enters into our suffering as Jesus goes to the cross.
But the story doesn’t end there. Three days later, Christ is risen. The tomb is empty on Easter morning. These truths stand even if our churches are also empty on Easter morning this year as we stay safe in our homes.
Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we see what God does with pain, suffering, and tragedy; it is transformed.
Nothing stops new life from bursting forth from the tomb. God redeems our suffering. God takes it to the cross and transforms it into something life-giving, into balm for our brokenness.
This pandemic is not God’s doing. We are not being punished or given a collective test of faith. We are experiencing a public health crisis. These things happen sometimes.
No one is exempt from suffering. The suffering that comes with this current pandemic looks different for each of us, but God enters into all of it. God is present with us, sustaining the healers caring for the sick and vulnerable, weeping with those who grieve, calming our fears and showing up in our lives in quiet ways and obvious ones.
In whatever place you shelter, may God bring joy, laughter and peace to you during this time of great uncertainty.