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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One thought on “Was God There?”
Dear fellow blogger,
10 years ago this week many people watched as airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center in downtown New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Hundreds of innocents perished because of the hatred of a handful of people whom they had never met before.
Perhaps you know what it is like to suffer tragedy in your life even if you were not one of the many who lost family that day. Perhaps you feel like an airplane has crashed into your heart, and that your dreams and hopes have come crashing down. If that’s the case I do not claim to have answers for all the questions you may have. But I do know where you can find the hope you need. God can save you not only from being a victim of someone else’ hatred, but also from being a perpetrator. All people have been terrorized to some extent by those around them, and all people are guilty of terrorizing others. But God wants to both forgive you for your sins (2 Peter 3:9) and to give you a home in heaven where there will be no more pain (Revelation 21:4).
There is much in this world that is out of our control. We can never know ahead of time if someone may try to kill us, or if we will die by some natural means. But if we trust in Jesus for salvation we can be sure that we will spend eternity with God after we die (I John 5:13). That is because Jesus has already died for our sins (Romans 5:8-9). If you accept this free gift by believing and repenting you will be saved (Acts 17:30-31). But if you reject this gift you reject the only way to escape God’s wrath (II Thessalonians 1:7). God loves you, but He also loves the people you hurt, and He will avenge them by punishing you if you are too unfeeling too admit how much you have sinned against them.
Thanks for listening to my message. I hope that you have a peaceful week and that God will lead you to eternal peace of the soul.