Where is God in the suffering?





At the moment we are in the throes of a global pandemic as Covid 19 spreads around the world, causing a huge amount of suffering. I am sure that you will have heard the question asked by many people, both those of faith and those with no faith, “where is God in all of this?” Why does God allow this suffering? They may talk about how an all-powerful, all-loving God should be able to stop it. And ask, “so why doesn’t he?”

But why do we, as Christians, believe that our lives should be a bed of roses? That we are somehow immune to suffering or hardship or pain? Nowhere in the Bible does it say that believing in God would lead to an easy life. Quite the opposite in fact. Jesus states quite clearly that following him, that turning to God, would mean that his followers would endure much suffering.

But what we were are promised, what gives us as Christians, hope and strength in these difficult times, is the knowledge that God will always walk through the suffering and the dark times with us.

During these dark, strange and sometimes scary times we can be reassured that God is with us, present in our suffering and struggles. He is, after all, the God who has shared and understands our suffering, who still bears the scars of the cross on his hands, his feet and his side. But we don’t have to accept the situation quietly. We can follow the examples of the Psalmists of old who cried out to God, in anger, hurt, sorrow and need. We can open our hearts to God knowing that he will hear our cries. If we read the words of psalm 23 we can be reassured that God will never abandon us.

We see God clearly and constantly in the response to this current situation. In the faces of the front-line workers, who risk their lives each day to help others. In the faces of the volunteers, delivering food and medicine. In the faces of those who pick up the phone and call someone, to make sure that they are OK. In the faces of those who sit and pray for all those who are affected. That’s where we find God.

We cannot at present control the situation. We do not know what the future might hold. But that loss of control is exactly what can let us get closer to God, as we reach out to him in our pain. Perhaps now, as we sit in this time of change, we can realise just how much we do need God. How much we need his presence, his love, his grace, and his unchanging goodness. It is a time to reach out to God and let him in to our hearts and our minds. As we hand the situation over to God, we hear those words of Julien of Norwich, written as the plague devastated England, “all will be well.”

Revd Wilma Colley