where was God?

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~

The flashing cursor taunts me this morning.

The blank page looms larger than life.

What can I possibly say that hasn’t already been said?

How can I make sense of the senseless?

I can’t.

I search for God in the void. I can’t find Him.

I try to answer my daughter’s – my own – unanswerable questions.

Mama, if God can do anything, why wouldn’t He have protected those children?

I’d already spent days asking the same question.

I have no answers.

Do you remember the school in Russia – Beslan, I think it was, where hundreds of children were held hostage over three agonizing days while their parents stood outside, helpless? In the end, 186 children were dead.

I asked the questions then. I sought out the faithful among my friends and I asked. Where is God?

The answers I got were the ones I repeated to my girl last night. God created us with free will. Yes, He is the Almighty Father, but just like any parent, He can only guide us if we listen to Him. The choices we make are ultimately our own.

The questions she asked in response were the same ones I had.

Fine, but He’s not just a parent. He’s God. And He is all-powerful. And He sees and He knows everything, so WHY would He not step in and protect those children? Mama, if it had been me, you would have done something.

Dear God, if it had been her. I’d thought of nothing else for days. If it had been my girls.

I knew where her questions would lead. I watched it unfold like a tragic play. What about Tuck?

With tears in her eyes, she had to ask. It’s no different to her. The evil of a madman and the evil of disease. Why didn’t God save Tuck, Mama?

I tell her what I’ve been thinking over the past few days. That a thought has emerged for me and that I’m not sure if I can explain it, but that I’m going to try.

*

I called one of the same friends the other day, when news broke of the shooting in CT. Do you remember Russia, I asked?

Yes, he said. I thought of you as soon as I heard the news. I thought of our conversation then. I remembered that I didn’t have any good answers.

Do you now, I asked? Can you tell me where God was today?

He answered simply, He was with those children. And they are with Him now.

He was in their hearts, Jess, he said.

My mind was reeling. Faith is not a natural response for me. Questions are.

But if God was with them, then why was He not with the shooter?

And that was the one. That was the question that answered the rest.

The dominoes began to fall.

He was. Of course he was. God is in all of us. He has to be. He created us. Just as my parents are in me and I am in my daughter, God is in all of us. But do we honor His presence or do we shut Him down? When we hear the voice of Love and Reason and Compassion, do we listen? When we hear the whisper that says Slow Down, do we heed it? When we search for Peace, do we find it? Do we feel it? Do we know that it’s IN us?

God was with those children. And now they are with Him.

It is not our bodies that concern God. They are no more than the vessel that carries what really is US. Our hearts, our souls, our very essence — that which lights us from within, that which changes other people, that which fuels the laugh that can power a thousand suns — THAT is us. And that is where God lives.

God was with those children. And now they are with Him.

We pray now for those they left behind. We pray that they may feel His presence – know it is within them and have faith that it was and is with their loved ones. And ours, as we send them every bit of love and support we have.

We are in this together.

God is in all of us.

Amen.

~

Ed note: By no means do I wish to proselytize. Besides, I’m pretty sure that if you trade the word Love for God this post still works. This is simply my own evolving, emerging belief system. It’s my way of understanding the incomprehensible. I hope that whatever yours may be, that it brings you peace and comfort.

36 thoughts on “where was God?

  1. Thank you… this helps… I am ready to walk out the door to my fourth grade class and I wish I had answers for their questions today… but you really helped me be a little stronger. ❤

  2. Even in senseless tragedies, God is there. He is with the people that are affected the most. He is guiding them and protecting them. And, yes, all the children are with him now. I thought about my children too. If it had been my children, I know they would be with God now too. Not easy for a mother, but knowing that God is the all-knowing and all powerful would have made it easier for me.

  3. I’m right there with Katie. If God is All Powerful, why? All Powerful means ALL POWERFUL. And if he’s not, then shame on religion for promoting that. If he IS all powerful then why is he allowing this? Allowing disease?

  4. Jess, I was worried at first upon reading; but you calmed those worries when you shared such an insightful conversation with your friend. It began to sound like you were lost, and I thought, “I thought she had faith?” So, reading your friend’s words restored my faith that you knew Who to go to for comfort after all in you. (Um, that would be God.) But then… well, then you had to do it. Why? Why did you feel the need to ‘apologize’ or ‘disclaim’ your wonderful insights? This blog is YOURS… your thoughts, feelings, and beautiful point of view on life. Don’t ever feel like you have to justify any of it for “us”, your faithful readers. Until people become confident and secure in their faith, it’s not really “faith”. Please don’t feel like you have to disclaim anything for us. The beauty of this blog is that it is real… feel free to let your real self shine for us anytime – FAITH and all!

    • “This blog is YOURS… your thoughts, feelings, and beautiful point of view on life.”

      And that, my sweet, is exactly why I felt the need to say what I did. It’s not an apology. Not in any way shape nor form.

      What it is is a reminder of precisely what you wrote. That these are my thoughts, my feelings, my point of view. And that everyone is entitled to his or her own version of that. That’s all. To me, it’s the difference between preaching and sharing. I simply want to ensure that I’m doing the latter.

      (Thank you for your kind words. xo)

  5. Thank you for your words here. With every sentence I was nodding along with you. I hadthe same questions in my grief for those children and adults and their families. One thought kept coming that gives me a small measure of understanding. How many people did you hear say they were going to hug their children closer, or tell their loved ones just how much they love them more often. It’s my hope and prayer that the devastation of Friday will change the heats of people to be a little more loving, to focus more on their families, to look out for those who might need a kind word.

  6. Our dear friends lost Olivia on Friday. I am not a religious person but I have prayed so much for Olivia and for her family. I also pray Tucker is there to welcome the children. A this point it’s all I can do to avoid the anger and ease my pain and take care of my family.

  7. Funny thing, I was praying last night for answers on this too. And then the phrase “free will” popped in my head. I truly want to believe God is trying to give us an answer. Especially since there was another person who received the same answer. Thanks for this post Jess, maybe it will help me find peace.

  8. Oh Jess, you have such a gift with words. Even on the most difficult subjects, such as faith, and love and spirit. Thank you for helping me to sort out my own thoughts by sharing your own.

    I’m reading a lot about gun control online, on Fbook, these days. I do think the US’s approach to guns is at the root of some of these tragedies.

    But if guns are the root, what then is the soil this violence grows within?

    I think we need to look deeper, and think about the way we talk about mental illness. (A permanent disability is not necessarily the same as mental illness, and forgive me if I use the wrong terms). Let’s ask ourselves how we help people who can no longer hear the Spirit that is with them, that is within them? How do we respond to people who are giving us clues that God is no longer able to guide their feet? Their actions? Their heart? What words do we use to describe these people, so that others descending down into a place of despair, of black, horrific thoughts, of desparate, terrible actions feel able to say “Hey, please see me over here… I’m feeling desparate; please help without hate, or disgust or judgement?

    We need to build a foundation, the soil so to speak, of love, acceptance, understanding, and real support for people in all mental and emotional states. Acceptance of the people, mentally well or mentally ill, not acceptance of all actions. This soil of acceptance will help us all to achieve peace – to live in true community.

    If we know without a doubt we would have reached out with peace, love and true, helpful support, then and only then could we say we’ll prevent such atrocities in the future.

    It’s about access to guns, but it is also about a lot more than guns.

    • I am with you in so many ways here – above all in recognizing that acceptance, love and sense of community are the antidotes to isolation and violence.

      But with one distinction. You said ..

      “I think the US’s approach to guns is at the root of some of these tragedies.”

      I don’t disagree that guns MUST be controlled. I am baffled by the legality of assault weapons. I just don’t get it. However, I think that saying that guns are the root of such atrocities is like saying that cars are the cause of drunk driving.

      Guns are the vehicle of violence. They make this kind of horror possible and they make it terrifyingly easy. Our free access to them absolutely, positively needs to change.

      But it is the rest of what you so eloquently address that, to me, is the real “root” of the problem. It’s how we address difference and how we reach out to one another – or don’t – that matters. It’s how we care for each other as a community – how we create a support system, how we respect and honor the humanity of everyone within our world – or don’t – that makes all the difference. That, for me, is the root.

      Thank you for sharing your insight. I am grateful.

      • You are more than welcome. I am happy to know that a few of my words were a bit inspiring to someone who inspires me every day. Thanking YOU.

  9. How do we explain this to our babies? You did a great job, Jess. Isabella doesn’t realize what happened – as far as I know. She does talk about God quite a bit. She says He is a great guy. Well, He is a great guy. I believe our “special” children have a special relationship with Him. God was and is definitely with those little ones.

    Sorry for the rambling. My words are not coming easily to me.

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