"Things like this really make you think and remember those things that are most important in life" This cliche and trite statement is one that is usually offered after great tragedies. This first time I can remember an event that sparked that response happened when I was in my fourth grade classroom, Mrs. Hembree was crying and we didn't understand why. I mean September 11th was just another day right? Well 11 years later we know differently. The next time would be a little later and would not be the cause of a terrorist group but rather the destructive forces of nature under the alias "Katrina". Time and time again great tragedy would shake the world's population and cause us to think for a few days... but then mostly we go on back to our lives until the next catastrophe.
Unfortunately tragedy has struck once again in our nation. In a small Northeastern town a gunman walked into an elementary school and cause the nation to stop. In Newtown, Connecticut a town of less than 30,000 people 20 young kids were murdered that morning. Upon hearing it, some of our memories raced back to Columbine or Virginia Tech but all of us could not help but shake our heads in disbelief and anguish.
This Friday upon hearing news of great loss, great pain, great evil, but also great heroism (in the story of the teachers) our Nation has once again been forced to sit back and think as our cliche statement reminds us.
One question has arisen from the countless questions asked by hurt and confused people, garnering many facebook posts and politician responses. The question is "Where was God when this was happening?"
As I was reading the responses to this question, I was baffled and honestly troubled. Many of them go something like this..."Where was God? Well I'll tell you where He was, for years You people have been pushing Him out of the school system and our Nation! Now you want to ask where He is?" Responses like this are getting tons of likes and are even being brought before Government officials (Rachel Smart's Dad). While I'm sure these people have very genuine hearts and truly do mean the best, I want to raise one caution.
When David in Psalm 139:7 stated "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?" He was hitting on a very important part of our faith and religion. You see in the following verses David answers these questions by concluding that there is nowhere he can go to escape the presence of God. Not even Hell itself. Again in Deuteronomy 31 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
A very important aspect of Who God is can be found in the fact that He is Omnipresent, or that He is forever present everywhere. This means as Psalm 23 states We need not fear in our darkest days because our God is with us. We sing these truths in songs while standing in our Church Pews but in our response to this resounding question we deny them.
We have said that in our Government's enforcing laws banning spiritual actions within a School they have effectually removed God from our Schools. My Friends no man has that power! I thank God that NO ONE has the power to remove us from His presence, not even the President of the United States! We as the Church and as those who claim to be followers of Christ must not confuse an absence of organized spiritual acitons with the absence of the One those actions are directed to! Our God is very much alive and well not only in our Schools but everywhere! This means that in order for a revival in our nation we need not get actions unbanned but instead focus on turning hearts back to the One who is begging for them to come to Him.
As the famous theologian A.W. Tozer once said "We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts."
So when our friends ask us "Where was your God when this happened?", we need nearly reply "He was there and He is here. He never left and He never will. He just begging for our acknowledgement, attention and adoration. Because the question should never be is God here or there, but rather are we seeking Him?