Where is God when I hurt?
Where is Jesus? It’s Easter, so of course we will say; “He’s resurrected and sitting at the right hand of the Father.” And, that would be correct. But here’s a harder question, one that I heard recently, that has been echoed in various forms throughout my years of ministry but has become especially poignant since I have started ministering the love of Christ to the places of the heart that can be the most damaged, the places where the hurts of the worst kind of abuse is festering, the abuse that has now given rise to our Wildflowers (Survivors of sexual assault) ministry: “If my own parents looked the other way while I was being abused, how can I believe that the Father in heaven wasn’t just looking the other way also?”
So again I ask; without the expected easy ‘you’re good little christian so you better give the pat answer— the Sunday School response— ‘Where is Jesus? Where is Jesus when I hurt? Where is Jesus when I am afraid? Where was Jesus when I was being abused, teased, maligned and bullied? Where was Jesus when I was being cheated, when I was being wounded physically or emotionally, when my loved one died? —Where is Jesus, where was Jesus, where is God when I hurt? The short answer is everywhere, the hard answer is— and the one that has to be the basis for the rest of the answer—Jesus was on the cross.
Jesus was not looking away uncaring or ignorant of your suffering, he was not busy doing something more important for someone he loves more, Jesus was on the cross. We all know he died for our sins, but he also died for our sufferings—we always forget that part, we blame God, we get angry: ‘Where were you, why did you let this happen?’
We cling to the promise and the knowledge that Jesus bore our sins on the cross, we don’t get angry and ask: “Where were you when I was sinning?” Because really, we hope he wasn’t around, yet we earnestly and eagerly believe and receive the grace that removes that stain, but we don’t apply that same standard to our sufferings, the things that may come as a result of our sins or the sin of others.
We need to claim the grace for the removal of our pain just as we claim God’s grace for the undoing of our failures, grace that comes through the cross of Jesus.
Let’s read the words of the prophet Isaiah concerning the Messiah.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53 —Written 700 years before Jesus’ death
On the Cross
Where was Jesus when we were being hurt? Why doesn’t he care, why doesn’t he do something. He did, He was on the cross doing something about it. Jesus was on the cross witnessing our hurt, witnessing all the evil that has been, is, and will ever be, purveyed by, and against, mankind. He was not just witnessing it, he was being it. He who knew no sin became sin… we cannot even began to grasp what that means. Jesus wasn’t just paying the penalty for our sins, bearing the griefs and sorrows, pains and regrets that come as a result of all that sin, he was experiencing it.
He experienced it in his flesh as he was beaten and whipped beyond what most could have survived even before the crucifixion. And, he experienced it in his Spirit, as time stopped and he spent three hours in the hell of torment and rejection as all those evils were placed on him to bear, causing his Father to turn away from him. The only time his Father had ever looked away from his Son, and the last time the Father would ever turn away from any of his children.
…we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5:20 NKJV
Jesus was steep
ed into eternity while still in the flesh dying on the cross and he experienced all the hurts, was accused of and bore all the sin, witnessed every evil and heard every cry. He bore it in real time just like he was there—because he was. That is why Isaiah could write about the event 700 years before the crucifixion just like he was witnessing it— because in eternity, it had already happened, was happening, and was yet to happen.
Remember when Jesus said: “Before Abraham was, I am.”? Same thing, Jesus is God and is therefore not bound by time. But he did have to step into time, he laid aside his glory to take on flesh and bone and mortal life, so that he could give up that life for us.
“Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”
Where is Jesus? He is on the cross, he is on the throne, he is in my heart, he is everywhere but most importantly, in this realm of man where we are limited by time and space—he is right here, right now, fully present and fully committed to loving you and I.
Open your eyes and see him, that’s not the gardener offering you healing, that’s the Lord Jesus.
I told that woman, who had asked me where the Father was when she was being abused even as her own parents looked the other way, refusing to acknowledge or believe the story of their little girl being used in such a detestable way—I told her: ‘Your Heavenly Father was not looking away, he was weeping for you and already planning your redemption, providing for your healing and he was laying out a path before you that would allow you do use what the enemy intended for harm as a weapon for good.’
Surely he who was able to undo his own death can undo your hurt as well.
He is risen, your new life awaits you.
Happy Resurrection Day!