Bob Tamasy: Where Was God?

Thursday, May 02, 2013 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

On April 15, the Federal income tax filing deadline, the adage, “The only certainties in life are death and taxes,” took on terrifying new meaning. The bombings near the finish line of the revered Boston Marathon took several lives and maimed many others, shattering a popular – and traditionally joyous – community and regional celebration.

The fact one of the victims was Martin Richard, a bright, engaging, eight-year-old boy, barely on the cusp of a promising life, made the sinister plot to cause pain, mayhem and devastation even more horrific and incomprehensible.

Initially, thoughts centered around who had perpetrated such a criminal act – and why. But inevitably the question arises: “Where was God?” Or as others might phrase it, “If God is so good and loving, how could He allow such a terrible thing to happen?”

Similar questions arose in the aftermath of the Dec. 14, 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 20 children and six adults were killed; after terrorists commandeered the jets on Sept. 11, 2001, taking more than 3,000 lives; following the bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, when 168 people died, including 19 children under the age of six. And sadly, after too many other senseless acts.

So, where was God when these events took place?

There are many possible answers to this question, but I don’t believe we can assert He was uncaring, indifferent, distant, or even non-existent. In each case, He was there in the hands, arms and legs of the first responders who ran to assist the injured. He was there making certain the number of casualties was not greater. He was there in the eyes, ears, lips and embraces of people that offered listening ears, caring touches and compassionate words to all affected. And I believe He was there in ways we can’t conceive.

But there’s one aspect of the question, “Where was God?” that concerns me.

Let me offer an analogy: Picture a neighbor who makes every effort to reach out to you, offering friendship. He or she – or they – Invite you to their home for dinner or a casual visit. They extend kindnesses, like a freshly baked pie or cake, or volunteering their help. They happily greet you whenever they see you, but you consistently ignore them or look the other way.

You rebuff their every attempt to enter into your life.

Then comes a day when you desperately need their help. Perhaps your car has broken down and you need to get somewhere quickly. Or you have some kind of domestic crisis. Then – and only then – do you acknowledge their existence. You go to them, soliciting their help. How would you reasonably expect them to respond?

Now imagine God being that neighbor. For decades we have systematically schemed to exclude Him from every aspect of our daily lives – schools and centers of higher learning; public facilities; sporting arenas; hospitals; governmental and civic events; the media; retail stores, insisting on “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” In some communities, freedom to conduct Bible studies in private homes has even been challenged.

The omnipresent God cannot be evicted by legislation or mandate, but He’s graciously withdrawn His restraining presence. Perhaps He’s said, “OK, if you don’t want me around, I’ll stay out of your way. See how that works for you.”

When things are going well, no problem. We don’t even sense God’s absence, His lack of involvement. We don’t need Him. But when calamity strikes, we suddenly wonder, “Where was God?”

I’m not suggesting in any sense that God orchestrates such heinous events. Or that His faithful followers are somehow immune from life’s calamities. But we shouldn’t be surprised when, after deliberately seeking to eliminate Him from our everyday lives, He doesn’t instantly intervene when evil intentions become evil actions, resulting in intense pain and suffering.

The Bible describes God as “my hiding place and my shield” (Psalm 119:114). Another passage views Him as “my fortress and my deliverer…my rock, in whom I take refuge…my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

Our nation was founded with reverence for God – and awareness of His protective powers, as described above. But in today’s “enlightened, progressive” thinking and philosophies, our society has chosen to dispense with that. Proverbs 29:18 states, “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.”

If that’s true, should the chaos surrounding us be such a great surprise?

---

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.)


Children's AWANA Ministry Starts At Middle Cross Baptist

Middle Cross Baptist Church, 4009 Norcross Road, Hixson, has begun its Awana ministry for children ages 3-17. The Awana program is each Wednesday from 6:30-8 p.m. Van service is provided by contacting Pastor Ed Gravett at 423-877-5742 . "Awana offers a fun, proven approach for early evangelism and discipleship. Scripture-based programs and exciting games attract families, ... (click for more)

Sunday Is 125th Anniversary Of St. Elmo Presbyterian Church

Rev. Tim Tinsley of First Presbyterian Church on McCallie Ave. will be the guest preacher.  "First Presbyterian gave the seed money to start construction 127 years ago," church officials said. Morning worship is at 10:30 a.m. Anniversary lunch will follow an anniversary photo of everyone in attendance at 12:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to join in the celebration. (click for more)

Bradley, 24, Charged In Death Of Boy, 3; Child Had Numerous Injuries After Left With Boyfriend; Mother Was In Workhouse

Justin Dale Bradley has been charged with criminal homicide in the death of a three-year-old child, who was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday and later died. Police said Dakota James Arndt had numerous injuries over his body. Authorities said Bradley, 24, is the boyfriend of the child's mother, Brianna Kwekel, who was in the Workhouse at the time. Ms. Kwekel was serving 48 ... (click for more)

Helen Burns Sharp Asks Recovery Of Legal Fees In Successful Black Creek TIF Lawsuit

Helen Burns Sharp, citizen activist who sued to try to stop a $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and won, is seeking to have her legal expenses paid by the city and the developers. Ms. Sharp said in a court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka are $74,427 thus far. Chancellor Frank Brown ruled in favor of Ms. Sharp, saying the Sunshine ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)