I hate to be negative, but if you look at the news today we see reports of multiple poison-laced letters being sent to government leaders; continued violence in the Middle East; the North Korean leader threatening other nations; a major earthquake in Iran; and of course, the bombing in Boston. As I pause at the rest stop of my life I have to ask the obvious question: Is God present in our lives? Where was God when the bombs went off in Boston and so many people, in an instant, began suffering?
I do not pretend to have the “answer”, nor will I offer platitudes. In my faith’s journey, though, I have come to believe that God is truly present in our lives. How can I believe this in light of all the tragedy? Where is God then?
I personally find God in the positive actions of others. Where was God when the bombs went off? God was made manifest in the people who ran toward the explosions to help others; manifest in those who, after running a marathon continued to run another two miles to the hospital to give blood; manifest in all those who prayed, turning to God in faith, and manifest in those, who either for the first time, or first time in a long time, turned their thoughts to God and found peace.
Through the years I have worked as a counselor to those suffering addiction from drugs and alcohol, as well as spending time as a chaplain at a children’s hospital. I have witnessed, and guided people, through much suffering, pain and grief. My prayer and reflections during those times did not necessarily answer the age-old question of why does God allow this to happen in the world, but what I have discovered is that in times of trial we need to be empowered to action. If we can “do” something positive for another it tends to help us realize that we are not totally powerless, and in the “power” we have we can do good. If we are to believe in faith that God is all-good, then it makes sense for God to be present in the good done in the face of tragedy and suffering.
As I mentioned above, I do not have the answer to the question of “Why”, but taking action and making a difference in the world tends to supersede the need for an answer to the “why” question. In a previous blog post I reflected on how to cope with feeling out of control in our lives (click here). That message may be helpful to us today.
What can I do?
- Talk about your feelings and concerns with those to whom you feel close. Don’t keep the feelings bottled inside.
- Surround yourself with friends and family. Do not feel this way alone.
- Donate to a charity helping the victims.
- Find a need in your local community, get out and help!
- Pray! Share your feelings and concerns with God. If you are angry at God, tell God! In your prayer share your feelings. But also in your prayer listen to God’s guidance and call to action. Prayer is not only a discussion; it needs to lead to action.
The following prayer, written by St. Augustine, has helped me. My prayer is that his words may help you as well.
God of life,
there are days when the burdens we carry
chafe our shoulders and wear us down,
When the road seems dreary and endless,
the skies gray and threatening;
When our lives have no music in them
and our hearts are lonely,
and our souls have lost their courage.
Flood the path with light, we beseech thee Lord,
Turn our eyes to where the heavens are full of promise.