As we struggle to deal with this pandemic, I’ve heard more than a few people asking the question, “Where is God in all this.” On some level, I suppose it’s human nature to ask what the hell is going on when times get tough and uncertain. After all, God didn’t give us much of an ability to see the future.
On the other hand, I think – what kind of snowflakes have we all become here in America? Where in the bible did God promise us a rose garden? We have been living during the Great Peace since 1945. Sure, there have been a few small wars and some rough patches economically, but for the most part it has been pretty smooth sailing here in the US. Hardly any of us now alive experienced the Great Depression or WWII much less the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 when about 5% of the global population died (equivalent to about 16.5 million Americans today). Very few of us even remember how it was to live with the fear of contracting polio.
Is our faith that fragile? Have we been living in relative comfort and security for so long we have forgotten how to be resilient and deal with darkness, suffering and crisis?
For a lot of us (myself included regrettably), a big concern/fear is whether or not we will be able to retire and afford food, medicine, shelter and clothing. I don’t think this even ranks in the top ten fears for huge swatches of the world (think Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, most parts of Africa, Syria, Haiti, millions of refugees in tent compounds, etc.) where they are more focused on getting through the day or week rather than pondering how their 401(k) will fund their golden years.
Again and again scripture tells us that God is near. I see it in countless acts of kindness, compassion and appreciation that people have been showing to one another on a daily basis during this pandemic. But there’s no need to take my word, take God’s word. At Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit, to fulfill Jesus’ promise to the apostles in the Great Commission in the Gospel of Matthew: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt 28:20) Because of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles at Pentecost, we know that the triune God remains with us, no matter what situation in which we find ourselves.
Psalm 139:7, also tells us God is near – “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!” Amen!