Where is god? Where is He when airplanes crash? When major earthquakes strike? When random shootings break out? When our lives are suddenly turned upside down?
If God is so great and good, where is He when tragedy or trauma of any kind happens?
The Bible tells us clearly that no one can ever get out of God's presence; that no circumstance, not even death itself, can separate us from His love and constant care. The Psalmist asked, "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?"
The answer? "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (Ps. 139:7-10).
Several years ago I learned that God is definitely not causing tragic or difficult circumstances that confront us. And that He's also not idly standing by like some detached observer, letting the trauma happen. That divine power, presence, and goodness are actually right there instead, to uplift, heal, bless, and move our lives forward.
My life was coming apart at the seams! I felt terribly alone. My marriage was deteriorating. Shortly after the birth of my son, I was hospitalized and underwent major surgery. I could tell the doctors were very concerned.
One night the thought came to me that I had a choice - I could live or I could die. And really, I wanted to die. But a stronger thought came - that I needed to care for a new infant and a toddler. So I reluctantly but consciously decided to live.
I left the hospital weak, physically and mentally - only to be confronted with insurmountable problems at home. There seemed to be nowhere to turn for help. For the first time in my life, I was beginning to doubt that God existed.
Then one night I prayed.
I was used to praying. I'd done it all my life. As a little child, I'd asked God nightly to bless all the members of my family - all my dolls and stuffed animals, too.
But this was a different prayer. I was desperate. Basically, I said, "God, I don't know if You are there (and I seriously doubt that You are!). But if You are, please do something. I can't do anything more myself." That was it. I went to sleep with little hope of receiving an answer.
But I did receive an answer.
The next morning I awoke, reached for my Bible, and opened to the teachings of Jesus. And each Bible passage I read answered specific questions I had. It was as if God was talking to me, explaining things to me. I felt wonderfully comforted. Uplifted. Joyful! I felt a sense of God's loving presence that I had never felt before. I knew that He was as near to me as my own thought.
This spiritual strengthening carried me safely through that difficult period.
Later, when I began reading the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, I understood better what had happened that night. I had turned my entire thought to God. His goodness, love, ever-present joy, had been there all the time. I had only needed to go wholeheartedly to Him to feel His presence and His immediate help.
"Divine Love is never so near as when all earthly joys seem most afar," wrote Mrs. Eddy ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 290).
When tragedy strikes or when life seems most unbearable, God, who is Love itself, is right there to lift us to a spiritual sense of existence. There's no tragedy, no sorrow, there. And seeing that, we bring positive change to the troubling circumstances of life, whatever they may be.
God loves all of us as precious children, and never deserts us to difficult human circumstances. God pours out love, guidance, correction, and constant care. Prayer - earnest, heartfelt, and humble - is answered. It shows what's there, and has been there all along.
Articles like this are published in 13 different languages in the magazine The Herald of Christian Science.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society