Where is God?

(Reprise from November 20, 2006 because I needed to read this today! – Jody)

YHWH you will arrange well-being for us.

Though in fact everything we have done,

You have done for us.  — Isaiah 26:12

One of the sillier questions we ask from time to time is this:  Where is God?  Why isn’t God doing anything?  I think I can call this question silly, because I’ve asked it myself from time to time.

First it’s silly because I wouldn’t be able to ask the question if God wasn’t busy.  One of our standard misconceptions about God is that when God does something via a “law” he is somehow less involved with it.  But what we observe as the law of gravity, for example is simply what we observe about God’s constant will for how objects are to move in relation to one another.  Because God is infinite he doesn’t have to divide his attention, so he can be directly concerned not only with sparrows falling, but with every electron that has to move through my computer as I type this.

Nothing is too small for God’s concern, and nothing is too large for him to handle.  What follows from this is that nothing whatsoever happens without God’s involvement.

But this passage takes us in another direction.  Sometimes we think we can run away from God and “just do things ourselves.”  But the fact is that there is no independence whatsoever in this universe, because, again, God is involved with everything.

One of the more interesting variants of this idea is explaining miracles.  We think that if we can find a way in which people can accomplish the miracle, then God didn’t really do it.  For example, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 has been explained by suggesting that when the first boy produced his lunch, other people began to dig out their lunches and share.  Now it happens I don’t think that’s a very workable explanation, but even if it was, it still represents God in action:  Everything we have done, you have done for us!”

The problem is not finding something that God is doing, it’s simply acknowledging that God is in action and getting involved ourselves.  Most of the problems with God’s silence are problems of perception—we don’t see God in action because we’re not looking at the right place and in the right way.  Once we realize that even what we have done, God has done for us, we can start finding the right way of looking at things.

And what is that?  The right way of looking at things is to search for how God is involved rather than asking whether God is involved.

As the Psalmist says:

7Where can I go from your spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

8If I ascend into the sky, you are there.

If I descend to Sheol, you are there.

9If I rise up on the wings of the dawn,

Or pitch my tent at the farthest shore of the sea,

10Even there your hand will guide me,

Your right hand will keep hold of me.  — Psalm 139:7-10

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