I wish we could write about the sovereignty of God in a lull between calamities. But there is none.
If I were to say we are between tsunamis or tornadoes, someone would say, “That tree just fell on my house,” or, “That was my mother whose plane crashed in Ohio,” or, “My uncle was among the tourists killed in Pakistan,” or, “My wife’s battle with cancer just ended — in death.”
So there is no lull. If we echo the voice of God from the Scriptures, it will always be during someone’s calamity. Which means, if we weep with those who weep, the keyboard will be tear-stained — always.
Today I want to focus only on one biblical theme: What are the answers to the biblical question “Where is God?” during calamity? I call it a biblical question because this question is in the Bible. Let these examples shape the way you answer this question.
1. God is in heaven, doing all that he pleases.
The psalmist asks, “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’” And he answers, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:2–3).
So one answer to the question that is always true is that God is reigning on his throne in heaven and doing things according to his infinitely wise and good plan. That’s why it pleases him. It is always wise and always good.
“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you done them all” (Psalm 104:24). “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:10).
2. God is in the same place he was when you sang in the night.
In Job 35:9–10, Elihu says, “Because of the multitude of oppressions people cry out; they call for help because of the arm of the mighty. But none says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night?’”
Most of the time, people don’t think about God. He is a non-factor in their lives. For example, they usually don’t say, “Where is God?” when he is giving them songs in the night. For millions, God is not a worshiped treasure in times of fortune; he is a whipping boy in times of trouble. We bring him out of the back pocket of our neglect and wag our finger in the face of the Almighty. This is very dangerous.
So another answer to the question, “Where is God?” is this: God is in the same place he was when he gave you thousands of good days and nights. (See also Jeremiah 2:7–8.)
3. God is testing me in his hiddenness and will rescue me perfectly.
The sons of Korah sing their hope-filled lament in Psalms 42 and 43. “My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’ . . . Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:3–6).
The people of God suffer calamity. And those who love the sovereignty of God are often taunted, “Where is your God now?” The psalmist answers, “I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” In other words, sooner or later, my God will restore my fortunes — in this life, or a million-fold in the next — and I will praise him.
So a third answer to the question is this: My God is testing me and will come to save me at the perfect time, in life (2 Timothy 4:17) or in death (Revelation 2:10). (See also Joel 2:17–19.)
4. God is preparing for his vengeance on those who taunt his beloved.
The psalmist Asaph gives another blunt answer of warning. “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes!” (Psalm 79:10).
God often brings his loved ones into trouble for their purifying discipline (Hebrews 12:5–11). While they are in distress, the nations may say, “So much for your good and loving God! Where is he now?” The answer is, “He is preparing for a day of vengeance on those who taunt his loved ones.”
“Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!” (Psalm 79:12). (See also Micah 7:8–10.)
5. God is standing in front of them, ready to forgive.
Finally, Jesus said to his adversaries,
“I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” (John 8:18–19)
Where is God when non-Christians scoff at Jesus, saying, “Where is your Father?” The answer is, “He is their midst.” He is pursuing them. He is on the way to the cross to open a way for his enemies to be rescued from his vengeance. He is standing in front of them: “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
And so it is today. When skeptics deride the suffering followers of Jesus, and say, “Where is your so-called loving Father?” the answer is this: He is right there in front of them. His people are his witness to the world. And what we say is, “The Lord reigns. And if you will trust his Son, he will turn all your losses (like ours) into everlasting gain.” That is why we “rejoice in tribulation” (Romans 5:3).