A Pastor’s Response: Where Is God When Life Gets Tough?

A Pastor’s Response: Where Is God When Life Gets Tough?

During my years as a pastor, the question I have been asked most frequently is “Where is God when bad things happen?”  The question may follow a devastating storm, an unexpected diagnosis, or a catastrophic event. The contexts vary but the query is the same. This question has perplexed and frustrated those afflicted with suffering, grief and pain. Theologians and philosophers have wrestled with scriptural texts and rational thought striving to make sense of the enigma. Pastors and counselors continually search for explanations that provide encouragement and hope for those scarred by raw human experience. In one sense, to attempt to respond to such a challenging question can seem arrogant or presumptuous. In another sense, the question begs to be addressed but is entirely too big to have a simple, singular answer. Religious clichés and slogans may offer momentary hope or comfort, but to the person who is hurting, “canned” religious answers seem hollow, shallow and often insulting. As a pastor, I only know to be transparent and confessional in sharing with my congregation how I am processing the question in hopes that my small insight might provide a little light for those dealing with the question from a dark place. 1. Life is not fair. I wish someone had taught me this when I was much younger. My early faith was predicated on naïve assumptions: God is good and life is fair. If I go to church, read my Bible, pray and try to keep the commandments, I will prosper and God will protect me. If I misbehave, bad things will happen. Now I would be inclined to...
Where Do We Go From Here: Moving forward in the post-election season

Where Do We Go From Here: Moving forward in the post-election season

Tracy Hartman CHC Coach Here we are a week post-election, and now, as many have stated, the real work begins. Here are three ways we can begin to bring healing and unity to our churches and communities in the days ahead. Pray for our local, state, and national leaders, both in our private devotional lives and in our corporate worship.  The author of I Timothy writes, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,” (I Tim 2:1-3) Whether we are pleased or distraught by the outcome of local and national elections, this is a clear mandate. We may find it difficult to pray for leaders that we ardently disagree with, those that we may have campaigned against, or those we fear may persecute us (or at the very least not work in the best interest of those we care about). But in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has strong words for us about loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.There is good reason for this mandate: it is hard to despise someone we are praying for diligently. Whether we approve of them or not, our leaders are deeply loved by God, and governing is a difficult job under the best of circumstances. All elected officials need and are worthy of our prayers James Dunn notes that the early Christian church was not an...