Where is God?
Written by Ps Zheng Haoren
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” 2 Timothy 1:1-2
It was late Saturday morning when I arrived at a relative’s home for a visit and time of prayer. No sooner had I settled onto the living room sofa when someone gently bemoaned, “Life is becoming so 麻烦 (Máfan; bothersome)… masking up, contact tracing, mandatory swab testing, pre-event testing, quarantine, lockdowns, deep cleaning on site, heightened vigilance…” I listened quietly, something was stirring in me. Tears started welling up… a tissue box came… everyone was silent.
I had been working late over several nights and the strain was building. Just the night before the visit, I was in a long conversation with a brother from India. The internet connection was rather poor but I did not want to interrupt his sharing. I could sense his emotions, so I listened. People around him are falling sick and dying. Church members and neighbours are turning to him for counsel, comfort, and prayer. He was heavily burdened. At some point, I heard “Where is God?”
“Father, would You send me a word for this brother?” I prayed silently. When a pause finally came, I found myself saying, “God is there. He is suffering with you and everyone else.”
Back at the visit, I turned on my phone, and showed them several photos. “This 65-year-old pastor died of COVID this morning… this 39-year-old pastor passed away suddenly yesterday… this 35-year-old lay leader died of COVID last week, the sole breadwinner of his family…” I have lost count of the seriously sick and death reports coming in from India and Nepal. I said softly to my relatives, “Why are we complaining? The current heightened alert measures are keeping us safe. Why should we consider them 麻烦? We should be interceding for the sick and dying elsewhere and seek to help them practically. Everyone fell silent.
Where is God? He is right here, abiding in us – the temple of the Holy Spirit. When we hurt, He hurts. How do we minister to one another in a time like this?
The words in Paul’s greeting to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:1-2) bring comfort and assurance. Paul was in his second imprisonment in Rome. He knew his days were numbered. And he knew what was ahead – he would certainly enter “the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus” – eternal life! This was his joyous hope and he was affirming it with Timothy. Also, he assured Timothy by addressing him as “my beloved child”. Paul wanted Timothy and the believers in Ephesus to know and remember that all in Christ belong to the universal family of God. We have one another in Christ, in this world and in eternity. God is with us!