Where was God when I fell two weeks ago ()? Just having written blogs about being aware of His presence in everything we do (August 20, 2016, August 28, 2016) I actually had pictured Him beside me as my sister-in-law and I made our way to the Golden Bear Bridge bears for one of my favorite pictures: me atop a statue. So I was “practicing the Presence.” But where was He when I dismounted and put my foot out into thin air so that I flew to port and crashed into a guardrail post, breaking my back in several places and ruining three more days of hiking in the forests, not only for me, but for my wife and sister-in-law?
Each of us at one time or another has probably asked this question, some with more and others with less profundity:
∗ Where was God when my puppy died?
∗ Where was God when my cancer was diagnosed?
∗ Where was God when I was abused?
∗ Where was God when my infant son died?
∗ Where was God when the bombs fell?
My nickname for Him has been “The God Who Is There” because that is what He is; but perhaps I should call Him “The God Who Is Here,” because He is not just housed in a far-away-Heaven. He is ever present with us, in all places and all the time. He was by my side as I climbed the golden bear, He was at my elbow when I stepped out into thin air, He was whispering into my ear when I thudded against the guardrail support.
You see, the real question is not “Where was God?” but “Why did He not do something?” Could He not have ordered angels to prop my foot at the right place? Could He not have “floated” me down to the ground? Of course, He IS God, and could do any number of things to prevent me from falling or suffering injury, so why did He not do something?
The Bible is filled with stories of God’s interaction with us and if you’ve followed Jesus for long, your life probably has its own stories of His supernatural intervention, a miracle or two. Mine does. But what makes a miracle special is just that: it is special for a special purpose.
Consider when Elijah came on the scene in 1 Kings 17 to prophesy a coming drought to wicked King Ahab. He was then told to go to Zarephath in Lebanon, about 200 miles north of Shechem, the Israelites’ capital. There at a widow’s house, God would miraculously provide him food through the drought. Acting as the agency for this miracle meant the widow and her son would also survive the three year drought that left many dead.
Later, Jesus recalled this story to His critics when He pointed out that there were many starving widows in Israel, yet God had sent Elijah to a Lebanese widow; He also noted the many lepers in Israel at the time Elisha, Elijah’s successor, was working miracles, “and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman, the Syrian.” (Luke 4:25-27) Sometimes God does not behave in ways we think He should, and that takes some getting used to. We must remember HE is God, and WE are not.
God created a universe with sensible order, not one that was subject to magic spells or deific whims. There are times when He decides the “laws” of physics need to be ignored for His purposes, like the instant healing of a lame beggar (Acts 3:1-10) or the opening of prison doors (Acts 5:17-26). However, most of the time He allows us to live in an orderly universe that is logical and consistent. And if I choose to step off a statue into thin air, though mistakenly thinking I would step properly, God will not usually change the location of the statue base, the direction of my foot, nor the consequences, beyond what could be understood without faith.
His purposes are not thwarted by my injury, and in some ways may find fulfillment by my ineptitude. Consider the interactions we had with the doctors and staff at Sutter Coast Hospital. On one occasion the physician’s assistant came to my room while my sister was on speaker phone, praying for me. Now my sister knows how to pray, as do many members of my family. But Jacque is one of the best prayerers. She takes you right into His throne room and you know where you are.
I glanced nervously at the PA, in that I did not want to annoy him, but I certainly was not going to interrupt my sister’s audience with The King. When she had finished and we turned our attention to him, instead of expressing exasperation, he commented on how the prayer had moved him! Later this opened a dialog about faith in God and what it means to follow Christ.
The graciousness of my sister-in-law was in full view throughout this episode as well. Afraid she would be upset by the curtailing of her hiking in the forest, I apologized, to which she replied, “It’s not your fault, c.a.. Accidents happen, that’s why we call them accidents.” Later she thrilled me with a comment about how fortunate we were to have God by our side! Hmm, maybe I should ask her if she saw Someone I did not when I fell.
So where was God when I fell? He was there! Right by my side, running to my aid with my sister-in-law, comforting my wife as she drove us to the hospital, opening doors for the growth and sharing of our trust in Him. Yeah, He was there. 😉
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S.Lewis, The Problem of Pain