Where is God when life is hard?

“Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” -Numbers 14:3

Dear members and friends, 

Life is filled with many events. Some events are quite challenging, enough to question everything including God. In my experience as a parish minister for more than 22 years, I was asked by many people a very simple question, “Why would a loving God do such a thing to me?” At times, I found myself struggling with the person who asked the question, because the situation seemed beyond something I could explain. However, one thing that I believe to be true no matter what is that God is love itself, and therefore is incapable of hurting, hating, or destroying anyone. Thus, it has been my continued inquiry to understand why we struggle or why struggles find their way to us. 

In Numbers, we read a story of the Israelites discouraged by the strong inhabitants whom they found in the land of Canaan. Despite the repeated promise and assurance from their God who was literally present among them, most Israelites gave up hope of acquiring the land. The reason was very simple; it appeared to be humanly impossible. This was problematic because it was not by their will or power that they had escaped from Egypt and journeyed to the land of Canaan. It was by the will and power of their God that they were liberated from the Pharaoh of Egypt and safely guided to the land of Canaan. Somehow, they forgot all of that, and fell into despair, as if there was no God.   

When fear or anxiety overwhelm our minds, we often retreat and shrink to be much smaller than who we really are. Thus, often we assume the problem or struggle in front of us is larger than what it actually is. When such a thing happens, we need to stop and acknowledge the most obvious facts and truth before us. The truth to the Israelites was the presence of their God who not only liberated them from the hands of Egyptians, but also protected and fed them through their journey in the wilderness. However, when they fell into despair, they forgot their God completely and thought that they should solve the problem all by themselves. This could happen to us as well. And, when it happens, let us remember the truth that God is always present in our lives.

My brothers and sisters in God, let us take a moment of meditation. Let us reflect on what is true and real in our lives and acknowledge the reality in which we are living. Then, let us pray to our Creator for inspiration, encouragement, and gentle guidance.      

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee