By KEVIN SCRUGGS
Community life pastor
“Where is God?”
As a pastor, I am often asked this question, especially during times of tragedy or great difficulty. The logic is that if God was indeed around, this “thing” wouldn’t have happened. So where is He?
It’s an interesting question.
I think you would agree that most of our life, we actually prefer God to be hands off. We like the feeling of independence, the feeling of control. When we do come to Him for something, it’s usually based around a lottery ticket, or wanting our team to win the big game, or when something bad has happened in our lives.
Where is God? I want to come back to that question. I think there is a more difficult question that everyone has, deep beneath the surface but difficult to verbalize, or maybe too scary: What do you need?
For some, when life hits the fan, you need answers. Others want vengeance, perhaps comfort or direction. A drink, a smoke, something to numb the pain, revenge, help, peace, rest …
I think we could summarize all of our needs with this one word: Hope.
There is this guy in the Bible, you’ve probably heard of him, the apostle Paul. He wrote at least seven of the books in the New Testament. Paul knew a lot of stuff. Paul experienced a lot of stuff. Paul was well educated, well connected, went to the right schools, knew the right people. Paul did some pretty bad stuff too. He persecuted people, threw people in jail, he even had some people killed. Paul’s life was all over the map. For example, he was thrown into prison multiple times, was beaten, had attempts made on his life, was stoned (the kind with actual rocks, not that other kind), spoke in front of the most important people in the world, and was shipwrecked. He even was bitten by a poisonous snake.
I think we could agree that Paul had lived life to the fullest, and yet, it wasn’t satisfying. He describes it this way in a letter he wrote: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:11–12)
Wait, wait, wait. Contentment? Secret? What secret? He gives his answer a few sentences later: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Hold on, hold on. This feels like a bait and switch. OK, let’s go back to our original question. Where is God? The answer is this, He is right here, in the center of your need.
God understands all of it. He knows loss, He understands pain. That’s not just some religious statement. Check this out: in Genesis, the Bible tells us that He created mankind, they had this amazing relationship, and then mankind blew Him off for something else. And later on, God’s own Son, Jesus, was murdered by mankind! Listen to this: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves (rescues) the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, ESV)
Where is God? He is right here, at the point of your need — your “hope” — and the only thing that can truly satisfy that need is to begin a relationship with Him through Jesus.
Keep reading, the answer is next. John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved (rescued) through him.”
Look, God knows that all of those things you are pursuing will not satisfy what you really need, but you know that already. That’s why you wake up the next day and pursue them again. God loves you enough to bring you to this exact moment because He knows what you truly need: Him. All you have to do is ask, right here, in this very moment, and God does the rest. Believe when I tell you that just like Paul and just like me, when you do ask for this relationship with God, your true need, HOPE will be fulfilled.
Where is God? He is right here, waiting for you. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
— Kevin Scruggs is community life pastor of GracePoint Church in Bremerton. This column is an adaptation of the message he read at the celebration of life on Feb. 7 for John D. Careaga, Christale Lynn Careaga, Johnathon F. Higgins, and Hunter E. Schaap.