“Ask not “WHY does God allow this to happen?” but “WHERE is God in the midst of life?” – Christine Sine
This quote has resonated in the back of my mind ever since Christine Sine came to speak at our church’s leadership training event this past Saturday. She told us how a paradigm shift of asking not “Why” but “Where” came about for her after a period of questioning God while working in a refugee camp in Thailand with Mercy Ships many years ago. It became apparent that her spiritual foundation was not strong enough to handle all the suffering she was seeing on a daily basis. However, she began to realize that God was still present even there after seeing things such as the Buddhist monks working alongside her having encounters with Jesus in their dreams. It was then she decided she had been asking herself the wrong question about God all along.
All this brings me back to an “Ah-ha” moment I had during a mission trip I took to Costa Rica with my church last August. Our team spent most of our fourth day in an extremely impoverished area of San Jose called Los Guido. We met with some community leaders from Los Guido and heard their fears, frustrations, hopes and dreams for that area. We visited the new Child Care Center being built in Los Guido by Roblealto, our church’s global partner in Costa Rica, and saw the top-notch care and construction being put into it. We also spent a few hours doing crafts and “virtue lessons” at local elementary school in Los Guido, as well as having a chance to talk with the principal to hear his vision for the school.
At the end of that day, after all of those experiences, my “Takeaway” was this: “God is already there and at work in places you might least expect it!” I think I saw that sometimes you can look around at hard circumstances, such as children growing up in extreme poverty, and wonder where God is in all that. But my point is that I realized He IS there – giving hopes and dreams to those community leaders, creating compassion and action in the hearts of Roblealto staff, and providing vision for the local elementary school principal. This was truly a chance for me to see God’s light and love even in the midst of darkness and heartache.
Christine Sine’s quote reminded me that I can look for WHERE God is already at work in the hard circumstances around me as I choose not to ask WHY God is allowing something to happen but decide instead to believe in faith that He is already present in that situation. After making such a shift in thinking, I feel it is then our privilege to just come alongside Him in the work He is is already doing. But it can certainly take the right kind of mindset and the right set of eyes to be able to see where we can begin to partner with God in difficult areas around us. This doesn’t come easily or quickly to most people I feel. I know I am still being stretched and grown here for sure!
This all ties in with a song I heard on the radio yesterday by Matthew West called, Do Something. (It has a very thought-provoking music video so watch it if you have time!) The first verse goes like this:
I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”
So maybe if we start to ask WHERE is God in the midst of life instead of WHY He allows bad things to happen, we might not have to look too far to see an answer! At least that is my hope and prayer for myself (and for you as well) as I partner with God to let Christ’s transforming power work in and through me in order to impact this broken world around me.