Where is God?

It’s a question we’ve all been tempted to ask when we’re in the midst of pain and suffering. We struggle to understand why God allows us to struggle so much. We wonder if God has abandoned or forgotten us. We feel like God is ignoring our prayers and pleas for help.

Job’s wife, convinced that God abandoned Job, told Job to curse God and die. Yet Job refused to do so. Why? Because Job understood that his suffering didn’t necessarily mean that God had left him. Job knew something of the character of God.

In this article, we’re going to see what the Bible has to say about where God is when things get hard. We’re going to look at who God is and how God relates to us when we suffer. These truths should encourage us and strengthen us to follow the Lord even in the midst of hardship.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Where Is God? God Is Everywhere

In the midst of pain and suffering, the first important truth to remember is that God is omnipresent. He is not distant, watching things unfold on earth in a cold and unfeeling manner. He holds everything in His hands and sovereignly rules over even the tiniest of details. God keeps the planets in orbit, feeds the animals He has created, and sustains each of us.

In Matthew 6:28-30, Jesus says:

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

These verses tell us that God even cares about things as seemingly small and insignificant as flowers. Nothing is outside of God’s good and sovereign care.

When pain and tragedy strike, we can be tempted to think that God doesn’t care. To believe that God is too high and lofty to care about our suffering and distress. But again and again throughout Scripture we see that God is everywhere and that He really does care about the sorrows we experience.

If we need further proof that God is attuned to suffering we only need to look at Jesus. Jesus spent much time among the sick and oppressed, healing them, comforting them. delivering them from demonic oppression.

In Matthew 4:24 we read about Jesus,

Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.

Jesus could have turned away the downtrodden, on the grounds that He had more “important” things to do, like dying to save us from our sins. But He didn’t. He gravitated toward the marginalized and suffering.

Where is God when things get hard? He is everywhere, and that should bring us great comfort.

God Is Near To Us

We can also be confident that God is near to us individually when we are in the midst of trials and suffering. We may be tempted to think of God like a political leader who cares about people’s suffering in a big picture sort of way but doesn’t really care about people on an individual level. But this isn’t true. God is our Father and He deeply cares about the suffering of His children.

Psalm 34:17-18 says,

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”

God is near to the brokenhearted. He draws near to us when our hearts are split open by pain and anguish. Just as a human father hears the cries of his child and responds to them, so God hears our cries and comes near to us.

Psalm 56:8 says,

“You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?”

Not a single tear escapes God’s notice. He knows when we are weighed down with grief and sorrow. He doesn’t tell us to buck up, toughen up, and stop crying. He doesn’t tell us that things could be a lot worse so we should stop complaining. Our sorrows bring sorrow to God.

In John 11, Jesus’ friend Lazarus got very sick and died. Even though Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He still wept over the death of His close friend whom He loved so much. When Jesus saw the grief that Martha and Mary (Lazarus’ sisters) were experiencing, He too felt deep and profound pain.

Because Jesus wept, He is able to help us when we weep. He is able to comfort and strengthen and encourage us. He is able to lift us up and refresh us.

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God Hears Our Prayers

Because God is near to us in our suffering we can be confident that He hears our prayers. Pain is not a sign that God has stopped listening to our prayers. It’s not an indicator that God doesn’t care about us. We experience pain and sorrow because we live in a fallen, broken, sinful world. We are under the curse of sin.

Even though we live in a fallen world under the curse of sin, God still hears and responds to our prayers.

Pastor Adrian Rogers said:

"When God created the world, it was absolutely perfect. Perfect God made perfect man and woman, set them into a perfect environment, then gave them perfect freedom: the ability to choose. But they chose sin. And when sin entered the world, it dragged all creation down into what the Bible calls “the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). The entire creation now has the curse of sin on it."

When we pray, God answers, bringing us grace and encouragement and strength.

1 Peter 3:12 says,

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers…

Isn’t that good news? God’s eyes are on us and His ears are attentive to our prayers. Sometimes we don’t know exactly what to pray. When the pain is deep and profound all we feel like we can do is groan. God even hears our inarticulate groans.

Romans 8:26 says,

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

The Holy Spirit takes our groans and translates them into meaningful prayers. We may be deeply suffering and unsure what to pray but God knows what we need.

God Won’t Leave Us

Gratefully, God is near to us and we don’t need to fear that He will leave us. God always has been and always will be faithful to us. He has purchased us with the blood of Jesus and nothing can separate us from His love.

Romans 8:35,38-39 says,

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Not even the worst suffering - persecution, famine, death - can cut us off from God and His overwhelming love. God holds us fast in His unshakable, immovable grip.

Peace Beyond Understanding

We’ll never know all the reasons why God allows pain and suffering. But we don’t have to fully understand God’s ways in order to trust Him. We know God is good. We know God is faithful. We know that He loves us more than we can possibly know. These truths allow us to experience peace even though we may not have a full understanding.

As the hymn “God Moves In Mysterious Ways” says:
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r

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