While ministering to hurting people I often hear, “Where was God when…?” We want to know that we are not alone and that someone good is truly in control. In some cases, God is the only safe one to be angry with. It is too dangerous to be angry with a perpetrator who can punish us. If God is love, perhaps He will not punish us if we turn our anger on Him. But we are afraid to voice the anger in case we are wrong. We wonder how a good God could allow us to be hurt so deeply at the hands of others. “Where was God? He could have stopped it but He didn’t!” “He just stood back and watched while they hurt me!” “I was just a child. Why didn’t He help me?”
When someone unjustly hurts another person, we have a right to be angry about it. The anguish and pain that anger covers often is so deep it cannot be easily expressed even if we want to express it. It is less painful to be angry. We have an innate need to be safe. Anger at such injustice makes us feel safer and more powerful than we are.
When Jesus died on the cross, his words at the end seem to say what we are feeling when we have no control and no one to step in and rescue us. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34; Psalms 22:1. Psalm 22 is both a lament and a praise. In it, God feels far away and unresponsive. The psalmist is feeling abandoned. But He recognizes that what He feels is not the same as what is. He is attacked incessantly. But, God is near. Yet he feels abandoned and alone. As the psalmist comes to grips with the truth, he can then lift praises to God in the midst of what he is going through. Job had to wrestle with these things as well. In Job’s case, God walked Job through it by means of a personal conversation, giving understanding and insight. When Job chose to acknowledge that God was still good and in control, he began to be able to praise God. Job made good choices with his attitude and words even in the middle of his pain.
We are promised suffering in this life. 1 Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” We are also promised restoration, confirmation, strength and establishment. This world and the current spiritual order are opposed to God. That is why we suffer. It is an attack on God because we belong to Him. Everyone has an eternal destiny. It is going to be either heaven with God or hell with the devil and his minions. The devil wants to drag as many into hell with him as he can. Those who belong to Christ are under attack because the devil wants to defeat us and make us ineffective in service to Christ. But God wants to renew our minds so that the devil becomes impotent in his attacks.
I can answer the cry of “where was God when…?” But in the depths of the pain from which that question arises, the only thing that will satisfy us is an answer directly from God our redeemer. If we are willing to lay down the anger for a while and listen to God, He will give us the response that will not only satisfy us, but will also renew us, breaking us free of the bondage of the pain. As the psalmist cried out to God in pain, God answered and satisfied his soul. We too can come before the throne of God with our hurts to receive freedom from the pain. When we do, we will become far more effective in our walk with Him. We will be free from the slavery of pain, lies and sin. Strongholds that we are not even aware of will be broken. Then we will truly know that God was always there, holding us, often protecting us from worse things. God has a plan. It is good. Let Him answer your cry.
Blessings to all my readers out there who cry out for relief. God will answer. Stop, lay down the anger and listen to Him. He will answer your honest cry.