What was meant to be a day of celebration became a horror show at the finish line of the world-famous Boston Marathon on Monday when two bombs exploded just as thousands of people were finishing the race. The carnage left in the wake of the explosions turned the streets of Boston into a warzone. And through the constant media coverage, we've seen it all. We've seen the blood and tears of the victims and survivors. We've watched the death toll climb from two to three people and the injured list rise to more than 140 victims. We've seen the devastation in the streets. But where was God in all of this?
Where was God when an 8-year-old boy died just watching a race? When runners had their legs blown off, when spectators limbs and clothing were burnt off — where was God? When the evil responsible for this attack began to plot, where was God?!
To the atheist and the spiritual believer alike, these can seem like useless questions that yield unsatisfying answers. At the end of the wondering, plots have still been carried out, lives and limbs have still been lost; there's no undoing these things or unseeing the terror.
Questions and confusion, anger and regret are normal feelings to have in times likes these. When all that is good is clouded by all that is evil, God can be difficult to find. When we’re overcome with anguish, it’s understandable to feel God has forsaken us, because God is good and therefore, in His presence, there are only good things, right? But God doesn’t operate within the confines of our understandings. He is still there, even while situations are occurring that we don’t want to be. God doesn’t stop existing just because our own desires and ideas of life have failed to come true.
So where is God for the left-behind ones who bear witness to these tragedies? Present at all times; we just have to retrain our eyes to see Him. Because He was the group of runners who ran toward the explosion, took off their belts to create tourniquets for the injured, and carried the victims to safety. He was in the medics who moved quickly to turn their stations from a place of dehydration treatment to a warzone hospital in mere seconds. He was in the spirits of the first responders who were on the scene in record-time, saving as many lives as they could. God was there in those people who offered up their homes to strangers in the wake of the massacre. And He’s especially there in the hearts of the victims. Because no matter the tragedy, the beauty of God remains, surviving and thriving in the face of adversity. And it always will.
So don't fear; God is alive and well. He hasn't forgotten. Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is right there in the midst of your survival, getting you through it, one day at a time. He is our refuge and strength, a very present helper in the time of trouble. He's the peace you have when having peace doesn't even seem possible. He's the joy you get even when you thought you'd never have a reason to smile again. He is the unexplainable good that surrounds you, even when bad things seem never-ending.
And for those three who didn't make it, the little 8-year-old boy and the two others whose stories we do not yet know, they woke up in Heaven to see the very face of God, with their spirits and bodies intact. Safe in the arms of a God who never leaves us, they are now resting in the most perfect place with no more fear or pain or senselessness or evil. They now have the kind of peace that we can only dream about, pray for and wait for.
So until then, we get busy being the face of the merciful, loving Creator on earth, so that the next time someone else wonders,"Where is God?" and we show up, they won’t have to wonder for long.
Help the survivors and first responders get food, water and crisis counseling through The Salvation Army.