Last week, my husband and I toured the Walker Art Museum with our daughter. One of the collections that we saw had a few photographs that reflected on the genocide that took 800,000 lives in Rwanda in the 90s. As I looked at the photographs, I remembered a blog that I read earlier that day about Rwanda and the genocide. In it, the author questioned where God was in the midst of all of the suffering:
Perhaps God was present during the genocide, feeling the full-blown pain of the victims, mourning the loss of his beloved children, aching with Rwandans when killers violated the sanctuary of his church and his Earth.
I believe that God was there. I believe that he was there feeling the pain of his crucifixion all over again as people took into their own hands the lives of others. I believe that he was there amidst all of the oppression, calling for his love and his mercy to be released. And I believe that he was there on September 11, 2001 as America suffered from the tragic events of that day. And he was there on in 2005 when a tsunami ravaged Southeast Asia and when Hurricane Katrina displaced families New Orleans. And he is there are millions of children in the United States and abroad go to bed with empty stomachs. He is there and has always been there, standing with humanity in every single tragedy, every single misfortune, every single act of evil.
I believe that this is the kind of God that we serve, one of compassion, one of grace. He does not take pleasure in the humanity’s suffering under any circumstances, but hurts when we hurt and grieves when we grieve. Yet this does not answer why suffering takes place, why does he allow these things to even happen? At the risk of sounding trite, I am not going to even answer that question, besides there are many theologians and authors who can do it way more eloquently and succinctly than I. But I will say this, we can take joy in knowing that the suffering is only temporary. It will not always last, like this earth that we live on, it will someday pass away. In the meantime, we hope and we pray, and we take refuge in God’s manifest presence even in the midst of the most horrible atrocities.
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