Where is God When it Hurts?

(Author’s note: this article was originally written for the September 2020 newsletter for The Cross and Tower- FUMC Winnfield’s monthly newsletter. Then was edited following Hurricane Laura’s impact on Louisiana and here in Winn Parish where many were without electricity for over a week and phone, internet and television for several weeks or longer.)

2020 has already been a year for the record books- and not in a good way. A pandemic that sickened and killed thousands, racial tensions, an election that is sure to be divisive, and so many tropical systems that the Greek alphabet is in use to name storms for only the second time in history. Thousands in Southwest Louisiana, and even some of us here in Winn Parish, are still recovering from Hurricane Laura over a month later. A friend put on Facebook, “I can’t wait for the great Louisiana blizzard of December 2020!” And it could happen! It seems we are living and singing the old Hee Haw song by Buck Owens and Roy Clark: “Gloom, despair, and agony on me! Deep, dark, depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all! Gloom, despair and agony on me!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAAKPJEq1Ew This leaves us asking the question: where is God when it hurts? Where is God when we go through pain and suffering? Where is God when everything goes wrong?

We are not the first to ask such questions. In fact, they may be the oldest questions in history, addressed in what could be the oldest book in the Bible, Job. The Bible says that Job was a righteous man, a man who turned from evil. Nonetheless, in one fell swoop everything that had meaning and purpose or made sense for Job was lost. The Sabeans rustled all his oxen and donkeys and killed all the herdsmen. Fire struck the sheep and the shepherds and burned them up. The Chaldeans raided the camels, carried them off, and put all the drivers to death. A whirlwind swept across the desert, struck his eldest son’s house, and killed all of Job’s sons and daughters while they were dining.( Job 1:13-19) To top if off, Job broke out in running sores from head to foot, and in disgust his wife said to him. “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9) Everything was gone. His world had crashed.

How would you and I react? How would Job react? “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshipped” (Job 1:20). He remembered the source of His strength. He remembered the hope of his future. He remembered that God loved and cared for him. Everything was lost, and Job fell down on the ground and worshipped. In essence, Job is saying, “Even though, tragedy has struck my life and I’ve lost it all, I trust God.” Job 19:25,26 says “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.”

Even in difficult times, let us keep our faith and be reminded that we are not alone. God will supply us with a power that is greater than ourselves to bring us through the difficulties that we face. When our world crumbles all around us, cling to God. Where is God when it hurts? Where is God when everything goes wrong? Where is God in the worst of times? God is right there with us. Let us look to Him for hope and strength.

Looking to God When it Hurts,

Kevin D. Smith

Essential Equipment

Disaster struck our office Monday morning. The internet network went down. I know, I know, on the scale of disasters, the internet going out does not even rate a blip on the radar. But suddenly, those things that we take for granted like email, online ordering, social networking and so many other things critical and necessary to run our office were suddenly impossible or much more difficult.

Later that day, a coworker dropped her phone and the screen turned a sickly shade of yellow, then went black. Dead. Gone. Broken in a minute. The phone may be gone, but the information stored on it is not. Contacts lost. Passwords to reset. A new phone is on the way, but the loss is in time spent as much as dollars.

My intent is not so much to consider how technology has become essential equipment to the way we conduct our lives, businesses, and relationships, as to think about what is most important in our businesses, lives and faith.  What is truly essential?

There is essential equipment in everything that we do. If I am going fishing, I need, at the minimum, a rod, reel, line, hooks and bait. At the baseball field, a bat, ball, gloves, and bases are essential equipment. On the football field, a ball, helmets, pads, and cleats are essential equipment. This is only the beginning. We need a vehicle to get us to work, closets full of clothes to wear for work and play, and the list could go on. The truth is that most of us have more than enough stuff.

What if that “stuff” suddenly went away, like our internet network, or the phone, or the essential equipment for our lives and businesses? What would remain? For many people in my hometown of Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas during the great flood of August 2016, that is exactly what happened. For many of those people, all that remained was family, friends and faith.

We are not the only ones that have experienced loss. In the Old Testament book of Job, Job loses his wealth, much of his family, even his health in a short time period (Job 1:13-19). What did he cling to? What was essential equipment for Job? Faith, friends and family. That’s not to say it was easy. Job questioned God (Job chapter 3). His well-intentioned friends said the wrong things(Job chapters 4-5, 8, 11). Job’s wife even advised him to curse God and die (Job 2:9-10). Yet Job still held on to the essential things. When the world, or technology, doesn’t go your way, hold on to the essential equipment of family, friends, and faith.

Questions to ponder: What is essential equipment to you? What would make your business, life, or passions impossible or more difficult if it went away? What would you do if those things we see as essential were suddenly gone? How do we find and hold on to the most important things in a world full of stuff?