Question: "Where is God now? Where is God when it hurts?"
Answer: The Bible teaches that God reigns over the nations from His holy throne in heaven (Psalm 47:8; Isaiah 6:1, 66:1; Hebrews 4:16). Even though we know that God’s presence is in some sense uniquely in heaven, the teachings of Scripture also make it clear that God is omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time). From the beginning of Scripture, we see the presence of God hovering over the earth, even when it was still formless and empty (Genesis 1:2). God filled the world with His creation, and His presence and glory continue to inhabit the whole earth (Numbers 14:21). There are many examples throughout Scripture of God’s presence moving on the earth, interacting with His creation (Genesis 3:8; Deuteronomy 23:14; Exodus 3:2; 1 Kings 19:11-18; Luke 1:35; Acts 16:7). Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.” Jeremiah 23:24 exclaims, “‘Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.” Psalm 139 is an amazing study in God’s omnipresence.
Where is God?
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God is with you, beside you, above you, and inside you. God’s presence and watchful care never leave you. If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, God is right in front of you, inviting you, drawing you, offering you the love, mercy, and grace that He longs to give you. If you are unsure of your relationship with God through Jesus Christ, please read our article on how to “Get right with God.” Perhaps a better question than “Where is God?” is “Where are you, in relationship to God?”
Where is God when it hurts?
It seems we desire to know the answer to this question most when faced with painful trials and attacks of doubt. Even Jesus, during His crucifixion, asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). To the onlookers of that time, as well as to those who first read the story, it seems that God did forsake Jesus, so we obviously conclude that He will forsake us as well in our darkest moments. Yet, upon continued observation of the events that unfolded after the crucifixion, the truth is revealed that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death (Romans 8:37-39). After Jesus was crucified, He was glorified (1 Peter 1:21; Mark 16:6, 19; Romans 4:24-25). From this example alone we can be assured that even when we do not feel God’s presence in the midst of our pain, we can still believe His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). “God sometimes permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves” (Joni Erickson Tada).
We put our trust in the fact that God does not lie, He never changes, and His Word stands true forever (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Psalm 110:4; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 7:21; 13:8, James 1:17; 1 Peter 1:25). We do not lose heart over painful circumstances because we live by faith in every word that has proceeded from the mouth of God, not putting our hope in what is seen or perceived. We trust God that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs all the suffering that we will endure on this earth. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, because we know and believe that what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:7). We also trust God’s Word, which says He is constantly working things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Even though we do not always see the good ends to which God is working things out, we can be assured that a time will come when we will understand and see more clearly.
Our lives are like a quilt. If you look at the back side of a quilt, all you see is a mess of knots and loose ends hanging out all over. It is very unattractive, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the work. Yet when you turn the quilt over, you see how the maker has craftily woven together each strand to form a beautiful creation, much like the life of a believer (Isaiah 64:8). We live with a limited understanding of the things of God, yet a day is coming when we will know and understand all things (Job 37:5; Isaiah 40:28; Ecclesiastes 11:5; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2). Where is God when it hurts? The message to take with you in hard times is that when you cannot see His hand, trust His heart, and know for certain that He has not forsaken you. When you seem to have no strength of your own, that is when you can most fully rest in His presence and know that His strength is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).