It's interesting (and completely understandable) to me how people start asking questions about God's whereabouts when tragedy strikes. It's then that our images of God so often turn out to be incomplete and unhelpful. If my idea of a God, of THE God, is one who keeps everyone safe and alive and comfortable, then what happens when the poop hits the fan?
What I'm suggesting is this: what if it's not God that fails in the hard times, but our understanding of God that falls short? A quick look around shows that God is clearly not a God who keeps us comfortable or safe or even alive. God is not like that, and believing in God that way does not keep anyone alive, safe, or comfortable.
But what if that's okay? What if God can be a God who doesn't make everything okay but still be a God who loves us? Would it be enough for God to be a God who walks with us, who weeps with us, who laughs and celebrates with us? Is the only God worth believing in a God who saves us from all harm and sadness?
If you're like me, then the more you think along these lines, the less comfortable you become with the kind of God that makes everything ok all the time. You start to notice how bad a job that God does, and how unfair the criteria seem to be. Why does this person get a "miracle" and that one doesn't? Why didn't God stop that man from shooting up the theater? Why did he "save" this girl once but not again?
The more I try to understand God, the more complex and simpler it becomes: God is love. Love doesn't fix things, love doesn't save us from harm, love doesn't make everything okay, love doesn't erase suffering. Love loves. God is love, and Love...
...is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant
or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.