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Where is God?


"Where is God?"

This is such a profound question that can demand a high variety of answers. If I were to ask my four kids, I would almost certainly get four different answers. One might just look up in the sky, one might say heaven, one might say everywhere, another might say in her heart. Theologians would probably give a high variety of answers and also probably follow up with a slew of follow-up questions.

If you've ever asked this question, you are most certainly not alone. This questions and many like them are asked in scripture as well.

Moses in Exodus 33

Elijah in 1 Kings 19

David in several different psalms


Several different minor prophets
throughout the Old Testament

And of course, Jesus in Matthew 27

These examples are only a few. Notice in so many of these examples that this kind of question is asked in the midst of despair, frustration, anger, sorrow, and many of life-draining experiences that these individuals were going through at the time.

You might have asked that at some point this year and understandably so. It's been a tough year. Another fact about this question is that it is more than just a search for God. This is a search for hope because without God, there is no hope. Consider the hopelessness in the minds of the individuals listed above and the agony and mindset that each of them had in dealing with their various situations. They asked these questions because there was a loss, particularly a loss of hope.

While this question can be seen as a question of despair, it could also be seen as the healthiest question that one could ever ask in the midst of hurt of so many kinds. It means that one has admitted that God cannot be seen or noticed in a particular situation. Now when you see the despair questions asked by the figures above, notice how God responded. He made Himself more real and apparent than almost any of them had ever imagined that God could be in their lives.

Ruth Haley Barton writes that asking God where He is might be one of the most profound questions that we could ever imagine. Even if one is not in any kind of despair, this question is wonderful because while one might not be able to see God, it does reveal the desire in our hearts to find God. In so many ways, this is our mission. Noticing the movement of God in the world removes any glory from a situation that we could possibly take. Something that we have struggled with for so long is actually looking for this movement. In so many gatherings we take prayer requests and spend no time sharing prayer responses. If we don't share about how God responded to our prayers, then why pray in the first place?

When I think about finding God in situations and I struggle to notice Him
around me or in my own movements and seasons of life, I think about my favorite all time prayer. It was by a Trappist monk named Thomas Merton and so many have been blessed by it at various times and you can find it at the bottom of this post. I have prayed this prayer during wonderful seasons of life and very difficult ones as well. I have prayed this prayer when I had no idea where I was going and when I knew exactly where I was headed.

Regardless of what season and direction of life you might find yourself in as you read this post, may you find a time and road to being still and attentive to the presence and movement of God in your life. May that presence shape and form you and may you allow the Spirit to work in and through you so that you may bring the full presence of God into your life and the lives of those around you. Grace and peace.

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

-Thomas Merton

--Casey Lankford