where was god?


On the same day that two pipe bombs wrecked havoc upon my city, the news from Iraq was even more dire.

The following is a transcript from an interview on PBS News:

HARI SREENIVASAN: At least 55 people were killed in Iraq today in a string of coordinated bombings and other attacks. Dozens of others were wounded. Explosions rang out from Baghdad and Fallujah to Kirkuk and Tikrit. The force of the blasts reduced city blocks to rubble, caused chaos in the streets and left bystanders bewildered.

MAN: What have those innocent people done to deserve this? Lives of innocent people don’t mean anything? We are only asking for security and safety. Is this safe? No electricity, no cars. They are targeting everything, even people. Everything is targeted. Why? Why are they doing that?

HARI SREENIVASAN: The violence came less than a week before Iraqis hold local elections, their first vote since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but such attacks are often a trademark of al-Qaida’s Iraqi wing.

As 17 people in Boston lie in critical condition this morning, fighting for their lives, heaven knows how many others around the globe do the same.

I pray for them. Each and every one.

But just as my daughter does, I keep coming back to one question: Why?

This morning, my search for understanding brought me back to my own words. The ones I’d written while similarly grasping after the Newtown massacre. I share them in the hope that they will offer comfort to those who need it. Right now, they’re all I’ve got.



Where was God?

Originally published Dec 17, 2012



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.



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.

13 thoughts on “where was god?

  1. May peace find you in the turmoil of our everyday lives and especially on those days when God tests our faith. If you remember faith was often tested in the teachings of the Bible. We can only endure and try to improve ourselves.

  2. my faith fractured after too many questions along these lines…so it says a lot that your writing on the topic can still be so moving.

  3. “God is in all of us.” And wouldn’t it be a kinder world if more of us could stop and remember that a little more often. Beautiful.

  4. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
    This is just what I needed to read this morning.
    When I read your blog, I tend to read just what I need to that particular day.
    God IS in all of us. All of the time. It is up to us to determine what we do with that love. Soak it up or shut it down.

  5. My faith is shaky, has been for quite some time. But what you wrote, what you said is touching and moving. It is true. Although shaky, I know He’s there. And yes, God and Love are interchangeable, I just hope others would see it that way too.

  6. I am still trying to wrap my head around this completely senseless, horrific event. I guess we help where we can and just keep sending love, the potent energy of love.

  7. Jess, I woke up sobbing this morning. My brother committed suicide on April 8 leaving so many behind who loved him including his wife and 3 daughters under 5 years old. I am so very angry at God right now. My already shaky faith has been shattered. Your post helped me stop sobbing this morning, get out of bed, get my kids to school, kiss my husband goodbye as he headed to work, and get my butt into my therapist’s office. Now I am going to take a nap. Thank you for being here.

    • Oh Tara, I am so sorry for your family’s loss, and the children’s loss of a father. So sorry. May peace be with you and love be with the children….

    • Oh, Tara… I am so sorry for your loss. My older sister took her own life over 30 years ago leaving behind a 5 year old son… I still remember the anger and the feeling of abandonment. It’s as if they just gave up on us… Please know that you will get through this. Be angry- it’s okay! How dare them leave us like this? Sob, scream, punch your pillow… then be sad. Sad that he gave up on all of you. Keep a journal of the “firsts”- be sad for your brother for all the things that he is missing- the things that make life worthwhile- the moments that are so sweet, they make your heart ache with love and longing for more… not so sad that you drown in despair yourself… hug your children, spend time together doing silly, fun stuff- it’s okay to move on and nurture your own with the nonsensical of life… it is okay to laugh again… he is gone. You are not- you are choosing to be present for your family. Love one another… some day, you won’t be so angry and sad- you’ll think of some silly thing he did when you were kids and you will smile at the memory and you will be flooded with forgiveness for him because you must forgive him eventually, so you can embrace him in your heart again. Peace to you and yours.

      • Barbara, Words can’t begin to express my gratitude for your comment. In this, what has been missing for me is talking to someone that can really understand. You understand and gave me some wonderful advice. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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