Where Is God (When I Need Him)?

Bible Readings for the day: Obadiah 1-21, Hebrews 2:1-18, Proverbs 26:13-22
Meditational Reading: Hebrews 2:14-18
14  Therefore, sipsalm_9620nce the children have flesh and blood, he himself also shared the same things, so that by his death he might destroy the one who has the power of death (that is, the devil)
15  and might free those who were slaves all their lives because they were terrified by death.
16  For it is clear that he did not come to help angels. No, he came to help Abraham’s descendants,
17  thereby becoming like his brothers in every way, so that he could be a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God and could atone for the people’s sins.
18  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Robert Browing coined the saying “God is in His heaven—All is right with the world!”  Some people say that means, “everything is the way it should be.”  These words came to mind as thought about today’s meditational reading.

“God is in His heaven—All is right with the world!”  But where is God when “all is not right with the world?”  Where is God when I stand at my loved one’s grave, looking into the open pit?  Where is God when I sit in the doctor’s office and am told that there is no hope and to put my affairs in order?  Where is God when the hurts and heartaches of life beat against me?  Where is God?  Where is God (when I need him)?

“God is in His heaven—All is right with the world!” The First Century unbelievers would agree with Robert Browning, at least with the God is in his heaven bit.  God is far, far away; he is detached from humanity; he knows nothing of human suffering, much less our own personal suffering.  God is in his heaven and we should keep it that way!  We should keep it that way even when our heart breaks and we need comfort and strength.

The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that God is not only in his heaven; but that God is with us, with us in our suffering, with us in our hurt, with us in our heartache.  “Since the children have flesh and blood, he himself also shared the same things.”  The holy writer reminds us of the mystery of the Incarnation.  Our God is not an unmovable, unknowable force “somewhere out there.”  But our God, in the person of Jesus, came into our world as one of us, he took on our flesh and blood (in the original Greek it is “blood and flesh” –which I think may signify his sacrifice and reminder that life is in the blood — Deuteronomy 12:23). But I digress. Our God came among us as one of us in every way (except sin).  He did not pretend to be human but he became fully human and he did this willingly.

There is so much in these five verses! But this is a short writing, not a full blown sermon.  So let’s look at verse 18, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” When our Lord took on our human nature, he did not “take the easy way out.”  He underwent all of the trials and temptations we experience, except he remained sinless.  Because he did this, he can sympathize with us in our weakness.  To semi-quote a former president, he “feels our pain.”  He suffered when he was tempted and, I have no doubt, that the holy writer is reminding the readers of Jesus’ great temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane, “He kept repeating, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Yet not what I want but what you want.” (Mark 14:36).

God may be in his heaven, but he is not there without a care in the world, not caring about you and me.  In the person of Jesus, God the Son is with us to aid us, to strengthen us, to assure us, to comfort us, in our time of need.  Our greatest temptation (v.18) is to doubt that God loves us and cares for us, especially when hurt and heartache hits.  God the Holy Spirit reminds us that Jesus is there, he cares, he knows what we experience because he experienced it himself.  And this give us strength and comfort in our time of need.  Our hurts don’t disappear, they don’t hurt any the less, be we receive strength and comfort in those hurts, because our God knows, he knows, what we’re going through and is there for us and is there with us.

A prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for willingly laying aside your godly might and power and coming among us as one of us.  In our time of trial be near us with your comforting strength and power, reminding us that you know what we experience because you experienced it yourself.  When we hurt and doubt that you know or even care about us, remind us of what you did for us and give us the strength of you love and forgiveness that will see us through our adversity.  Thank you for being our God in human flesh, but, mostly, thank you for being our Friend!  Amen!

The Rev. Dr. Jim Kerner is a retired pastor in the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod

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