The human experience
1 June 2020
By Ps Garth Chin Poy
Throughout the entirety of our lives, the human experience, we will all at some stage wrestle with the full gamut of emotions and experiences that life throws our way. The highs and lows or peaks and valleys, successes and failures, pain, pleasure and so on. One of the profound things I have found is that often during a crisis people will either call out for God to help them or blame God for allowing something terrible to happen.
My aim here is not to fully satisfy anyone’s questions as to where God is when it hurts, or what is the purpose of pain. Many much more intelligent people than me have offered great insights into these subjects to help us wrestle with these questions. Maybe you could check out C.S. Lewis’s signature books: “The Problem with Pain”, or “A Grief Observed”.
In this article.
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If God is good, then why do bad things happen?
I fully believe that we are not created to just live a crisis-based Christianity, where the only time we ever come to God is when something terrible or overwhelming is happening and we need help. But that we are invited to experience a much fuller expression of God’s union and interaction in our world through the good times and the bad.
The problem during a crisis is that often we are looking for the reasons why this has happened, which leads to either a sense of internal failure or external blame. When the reasons why are beyond our control or ability to understand then there can be a tendency to blame God because obviously, He hasn’t done anything to help or has allowed something bad to take place. We ask questions like, “If God is good then how could He let this bad thing happen?” or we give ultimatums, “If You help me then I will...”
Our search for answers.
Sometimes, as a believer, it has felt like there is an expectation to have all the answers about God so we can defend the faith or clear up every misconception.
The simple truth is that we don’t.
We may not always have the most helpful answer or insight in the midst of a crisis but that in itself is also part of the wonder of this relationship, that we can continue to discover more. We can often come away with more questions than answers but continuing to ask questions is itself the art of discovery.
We want answers and solutions that help us make sense of things and understand what is happening. To offer the simplest answer in response to the question, “Where is God in a crisis?” I would say that God is seen and revealed in the way we treat each other. Where crisis has brought pain and suffering, God is revealed in the way we comfort each other. God is most often seen in the midst of crises in the small acts of kindness and generosity we do for others, which can so easily be overlooked.
I believe in a miracle-working God who is able to do the impossible. We see the wonder of these things throughout scripture with the parting of the Red Sea and the fact that Jesus miraculously healed people in the New Testament. Yet He is not some magic-wand-waving being, selfishly picking and choosing when and where to reveal Himself, depending on the extent of the crisis. He reveals Himself most profoundly in and through people and this is something that is accented more during a time of crisis, because light shines brightest in darkness.
Dealing with fear, doubt, confusion, defeat & trouble.
Even the most well-known characters in the Bible had times of fear, doubt, confusion, defeat and trouble. They all had times of crisis. That is one of the things I find so refreshing about the Bible, it covers the full gamut of life experience and leaves room for questions that hopefully lead us into a deeper and more satisfying relationship with the Father. We pride ourselves on our ability to understand and be able to make sense of things that happen. But it is in times of crisis, because of events outside of our control, that we struggle to make sense of it all. It is in these moments of chaos and confusion that being able to lean on or lean into God is helpful.
Crisis reveals our vulnerabilities because we don’t understand what or why this is happening.
So where is God in a crisis?
He is there for us to lean on and lean into because, in His economy, trust outweighs understanding. Being able to trust God can bring some peace amidst the confusion. He continues to be revealed in the way we treat others when we operate with kindness, bring peace and exude love to those around us.