All in Christianity

Where Was God When...? (Part 1)

I have a friend from college that I write letters with — old-fashioned, pen-and-paper, “snail mail” letters. We could talk on the phone, but because of where he lives, letters are the most preferable and convenient method of communication for us. Plus, who doesn't love to get a letter in the mail? Our letters are pretty infrequent, but that’s more because of my crazy life with three small children than anything else.

Several years ago, my friend went through a very painful and personal season of suffering, one in which the effects are still being felt today in his life. Trey and I grieved with my friend and supported him as best we could as he walked that difficult road. For years to come, my friend will wake up each morning with the reminder of that season of suffering, and I wonder if that the reminder might never go away for him. I hope it does, though. In the most recent letter I received from my friend, he divulged to me that he has walked away from his faith in Jesus.

In the summer of 2003, I served as a summer missionary at a church plant in Manhattan. While the distance of time has caused many details from that summer to diminish in my memory, one experience stands out to me after all of these years. It was a hot July day, and we were doing an outreach event in a park on the Upper Westside. As the event was in progress, I stood on the outskirts observing our group interact with others when I noticed a man up on a hill that overlooked the park. Dressed in biker’s gear, he stood straddling his bike as he watched our event with curiosity.

In Fall of 1992, America found herself in the midst of an intense political debate as the presidential elections drew closer. I was in elementary school at the time, but the highly charged debates and conversations I heard, both in person and on TV, made an impression on me. In particular, I remember an elementary school playground debate in which our PE teachers allowed students to voice opinions for who they thought should be elected next President of the United States. I cheered loudly and made up little rhymes for my "team," naturally following the position of my parents. At the same time, though, I remember feeling slightly torn as my then best friend, Abraham, cheered for the other side. His dad was a Texas Senator for the opposing political party, and I couldn't help but wonder how they could be such great people but still think "the other side" was right when it was clearly not.

It was my first introduction to the idea that controversial areas of life are not always black or white, right or wrong.

The funny thing about life is that it can be so unpredictable. The monotony and seeming predictability of things can trick us into getting comfortable, so that when that unexpected event arrives, we are completely taken off guard. Have you ever had one of those "I did not see that coming" experiences? More specifically, I'm talking about one of those devastating "I did not see that coming" experiences. You know the kind I am referring to here...a tragic diagnosis; a phone call with unimaginable news; a traumatic accident that changes the course of your life forever.

We will all face these times in our lives. You might have faced one recently, or, unbeknownst to you, one might be right around the corner of your life. As believers, we must decide how we will respond when those times come.