A note from Kelly King: It’s not uncommon to ask the question “Where is God?” when life seems filled with loss, grief, and pain. Yet, as Kaye Hurta reminds us today, God is still there and God still cares. His presence may sometimes seem distant, but because His character never changes, He is always there.
The answer to the question, “Where is God when I’m hurting?” has been discussed throughout the centuries in seminary classrooms, from church platforms, at hospital bedsides, and more. Greater minds than mine have wrestled down the theological answer and the personal application to this question. My offering to the voices across the centuries will be simplistic and born from personal experience. My answer to this question has also been formed by countless hours with people in pain and watching them live out the answer to this question with courage and grace.
Where is God when I’m hurting? The answer is both deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. Grief, pain, loss, and trauma all cloud our ability to see clearly at times. So, if you are having trouble seeing or hearing because you are hurting, let me help you focus on two things.
1. God is with you. In your pain, in the dark night of your soul, in your storm, in your confusion, in your sadness, wherever you are, He is. God is on the side of the sufferer. Scripture bears witness. Take a glance through the gospels and where do you find Jesus? We see Him in the boat during the storm, at the grave, with the woman at the well. In other words, He’s with the hurting. In our own situations we don’t always see it, but He is there. We are not promised to be without pain in this life (we know this full well), but we are promised His presence with us in it. I love the visual of this as seen in Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Imagine that! Right there in the presence of your “enemy” (pain, suffering, sadness, etc.), the Lord Himself sets a table for two and invites you to sit with Him. It is an invitation to intimacy, not after the pain, but in its presence. This is breathtaking to me. If that wasn’t enough, He anoints your head with oil. One reason for anointing in Scripture was for strength for a particular task or purpose. Could it be that the Great Shepherd anoints you in that moment because that pain has a purpose in your life? Breathtaking.
2. God is around you. He is seen in the care and kindness of others around you. He is in the moment your heart was lifted by that card, or text, or meal that was sent. He is in the hands and feet of those who helped you clean or ran errands. He is in the breaking dawn of each new day, a reminder of His faithfulness to you and that His mercies are new and available to you every single day.
I told you it would be a simple answer. I simply wanted to whet your appetite. No word-limited article could truly do justice to this question. Books have been written on the subject. In fact, if you are looking for a great book, consider, Where is God When it Hurts? by Philip Yancey. He is one of my favorite authors and considered an expert on the topic of pain and hurting. If you are hurting or in a season of pain and struggle, I am so sorry. I am praying for you as I write. God sees you. He is with you, around you, and for you! May you have eyes to see Him even today.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.