Posted by: mmreflections | November 13, 2013

Where Is God? November 2013

WHERE IS GOD?

Philip said to Jesus, “Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”(John 14:8-9 

With the heartbreaking natural disaster that has struck the Philippine Islands this past week, we are confronted with the age old question once again, “Where is God in the midst of such a tragic disaster that has caused so much human suffering?”  Many of us who have suffered from great loss, broken hearts, betrayal by those we trusted, death of loved ones, serious illness and other great challenges may have asked the same question.  With this question in mind it seems appropriate for us to visit this matter once again.  Jesus seemed to be addressing this question when he responded to Philip’s question.  Jesus spoke to us so often about God as our Father.  So we can paraphrase the question and ask, “Where is our Father at the moment of these great tragedies that occur in our lives?”

In the time of Jesus it would have been most disturbing to hear anyone speak of God in this way.  For the Greeks God could only have been considered as The Invisible One or Incomprehensible One.  For the Jewish people God was The Unnamable One for they believed that no one had ever seen God at any time.  To such people who had these ideas of God, Jesus said, “If you know me, then you will also know my Father.”  (John 14:7)  In the ancient world the people were captivated with the thought of the difference and distance between God and human beings.  They would never even consider the idea of seeing God.

To see Jesus is to see what God is like.  The Spirit of God is what we see in Jesus.  “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  The words that I speak to you, I do not speak on my own.  The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.  Amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do and will do greater ones than these.”  (Cfr. John 14:10-13) 

What made matters more challenging for the people of Jesus’ time was that they believed that God would one day appear in the world as a mighty and awesome king with great majesty taking away all the injustices and suffering in the world.  We are living in a culture today where there are many who still understand God as the one who protects us from all suffering.  When this protection does not prevent great tragedies, many are quick to cry out, “Where is your God right now?”  We are looking for a mighty and powerful one who takes care of everything for us.

We see in Jesus, God entering an ordinary home among ordinary people.  Most of us find difficulty in the idea of God coming into a humble home as a newborn child to an ordinary couple.  Here Jesus shows us that God is present within our families.  We see in Jesus God humbly doing a carpenter’s job, making it clear that he understands what it is to work hard sometimes under difficult circumstances.  He knows how difficult it is for families to make ends meet and to cope with the challenges with which we are confronted today.  In the Old Testament work was considered a curse according to that described in the story of Eden. (Genesis 3)  But with Jesus we see common work as blessed by the very presence of God.

When we read about the temptations of Jesus it becomes clear that our heavenly Father understands what it is to be tempted but is with us in the struggles we face in our lives.  Many would like to believe of a God who in only surrounded by comfort and peace oblivious to the problems of this world.  Jesus shows us by his life that God goes through the pain and struggles we must experience.  In the battles of our lives God is not far removed from the battlefield as so many leaders today  v     v.are who are far removed while calling the shots as our sons and daughters are dying.  Jesus, having died on the battlefield, reminds us that God is with us even in that moment despite the despair we may be feeling.

The bottom line is that in Jesus we see the great love of God.  Anyone who has ever loved knows that when love enters in, pain is not far away.  If we could live our lives totally detached from all the problems of this world as though no one or anything matters to us, perhaps we might not experience much pain or sorrow.  What a pitiful way to live!  In Jesus, however, we see someone who cares deeply, reaching out to all, especially the broken ones, the rejected ones and the wounded ones.  We see in Jesus someone who loves us so much that he is willing to die for us even in our sins.  For many it is easier to imagine a god who judges harshly, watching our every mistake or sin, punishing the innocent for the sins of others, destroying those who may oppose him.  It seems too difficult for such as these to see God among us appearing in unexpected moments and ways.  Many are too blind to see God ministering to us or to our loved ones through the words and hands of strangers. He is among us in mysterious ways, reaching out to the broken ones, the rejected ones, the hopeless ones and those who have hit bottom.

Where is God?  He is present wherever and whenever we see others manifesting the love, the beauty, the compassion and kindness of Jesus.  We see the presence of the Spirit of God at work in us whenever we ourselves are manifesting this same love and compassion.  In every smile, in every act of forgiveness, in every respectful hug, in the great outpouring of assistance to those suffering today in the Philippines or in the other great disasters of our times, we see the Spirit of God at work if our eyes are open. 

It is important for us to remember, over and over again, that every act of love, kindness or goodness is from God.  Jesus made it clear that he came into this world for one purpose only.  He was sent into this world because of and to make known the great love of his Father for all of us.  Each of us is brought into this world for the same purpose which is to make God’s love known to those whom he brings into our lives each day.  If we all lived by the words and deeds of Jesus, how different this world would be.  If we only lived with this remembrance of our purpose, how different we would be.  We dare not encourage others to live this way if we are not choosing to live this way ourselves.  However, whenever we manifest God’s love to others, we are already encouraging others by our kind words and deeds.

“Let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.  Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.  In this way the love of God was revealed to us:  God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.  In this is love:  not that we have loved God, but he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.  No one has ever seen God.  Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.  This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit.”  (1 John 4:7-13)

 

 

 

 

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Responses

  1. What a beautiful reminder for us to follow. I am always deeply moved by your lessons.
    It’s like listening to”Jesus in the boat”


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