One of the most common questions I hear from people, especially teenagers, struggling with doubts in their faith has some echo of this one: “Where was God when ____ happened?”  Whether it was the death of a loved one, unbearable abuse or a national tragedy, it can be difficult to reconcile this great loving God when so many horrible things happen in our world every day.

In a 2009 song, Audrey Assad, Kenny Butler and Matt Maher capture these questions and wondering in the verses that cry out to God:

Where were You when all that I’ve hoped for
Where were You when all that I’ve dreamed
Came Crashing down in shambles around me.

Where were You when sin stole my innocence
Where were You when I was ashamed
Hiding in a life I wish I’d never made

What I’ve come to learn is the question behind the question.  What we’re really asking when we find ourselves in struggles like this is: “Do you care?  Do you see me at all, God?  Why didn’t you do something?”

The bridge of this song remind us that yes, He does care. He does see.  He DID do something.

You were on the cross
My God, my God, all along, all along
You were on the cross
You died for us, all along, all along
You were on the cross
Victorious, all along, all along 

Christ died once, and His perfect sacrifice was enough to cover over all the sin we would commit and the pain we would ever endure.  Jesus went to the cross to make all things new again (Revelation 21:5).  He went to the cross so our innocence would be renewed.  He went to the cross so that we’d never have to experience shame again.

So where is God in the toughest moments of our lives?  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can claim the promise He made in our Baptism: He is with us, living in us, leading us, comforting us, sustaining us:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, 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.” (Psalm 139:7-10)

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

God, remind us of your nearness.  Even in the painful moments of life, open our eyes to the work you have done, on the cross, and are doing in our lives.  Show us that we can trust you even when it’s hard.  We praise you that You never fail us.  Open our eyes to these truths as we look to the cross and the empty tomb.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen