“Where was God?” It is a question I hear a lot as a Christian when attempting to comfort someone after the loss of a loved one or a horrifying event. I find it a difficult question, mainly because I do not have an answer. The reasons why suffering occurs is as much one of my questions as it is everyone else that resides on this planet at one time or another.
Instead of giving people platitudes and empty words, I tell them a story of something that happened to me that taught me to believe that God knows what occurs in our lives and He is there for us. I hope that the stories will do the same for the people who so graciously read my blog posts. For example, I learned that I was not alone after a night of sheer terror.
I needed to dry my clothes to wear to work the next day, but I had a strong feeling in my spirit not to go to the laundry room in my apartments. I decided that I was being silly, as I did not really understand what that feeling was, so I went alone to dry my clothes, thinking what can happen to me so close to my home? I sat alone in the laundry room reading a book, listening with one ear for the dryer to stop.
Suddenly, I heard a gunshot, and I tried to find a way out of the room, but I realized too late that there was only one exit, just as someone entered the laundry room with a stocking over his face. I was terrified, because he did not look quite human. I found myself in an encounter with a man with a gun who decided to gain power and control over another human being by forcing me to share life’s most intimate act with someone whom I did not know.
Yes, I survived, and I remained calm throughout a night of doctors and the police invading my body, my mind, and my spirit. But the next morning, while calmly telling my Christian friend, someone who had great faith in God to protect and keep us from harm and danger, what had happened to me, I, admittedly, very angrily and in jeopardy of losing my faith in Jesus Christ and God, asked her, “Where was God last night?” She answered, ” He must have been with you because two other women within a mile of where you were were raped and killed, but you survived.”
I started crying hysterically, as the fear, frustration, loss of control, and pain of being so vilely mistreated came to the surface. I thought that I would never stop crying, and that the tears would become a river so deep that I could swim away from the memories. She cried with me, as she told me that she had awoke with a feeling that I was in trouble, and she felt such a compulsion to pray for my safety. She had tried to call me, but I had already left the apartment. She then kept calling all night until she finally reached me that morning.
It was a conversation that changed my thinking, and made me realize the truth behind the words of Psalm 139: 7-12, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.“
Today, when I feel so deeply in my spirit to hesitate at the light, and then a car comes through the red light, I know that God is with me, and when a friend or family member is placed on my heart, I have learned to pray for them and to call them. They usually are surprised and say that they did not want to “bother anyone.” So, I learned to listen to the small still voice speaking into my spirit, and it is a skill that I hope to imbue in the readers of my blog posts.
No, I am not blaming myself or other victims for the violence perpetrated against us, for there is only one person to blame, and I hope that he was caught and stopped. I also hope that whatever demons he carried that caused him to hurt other people were finally overcame, and that he found peace in his life, albeit in a jail cell.
There are questions like Where was God? that we cannot answer. Yes, we live in a sinful and broken world, but that alone cannot be the answer, for it does not explain the moments of pure joy that we experience, such as the laughter of children, the beauty of flowers, or the kiss from someone who thinks we are their world. All I know is that, for me, the God whom Hagar called in Genesis 16:13, “The God who sees me,” is able to see us through the tough times in our lives. He does this through the people He places in our lives to help us endure and to share their stories of comfort and endurance. That is who I want to be as a blogger, with both happy stories and stories sometimes too hard to read.