Where is God in the midst of a pandemic? Where is God in the midst of sheltering in place? Where is God in the midst of everything falling apart? Where is God in the midst of shortages of food and medical supplies? Where is God in the midst of uncertainty that potentially leads to more deaths? Where is God in the midst of the idols demanding sacrifice? Where is God in the midst of death, despair, hopelessness, etc.?
God is here. In the midst of it. God always has been.
God isn’t a god of convenience or being comfortable. God isn’t a god of only good times. God isn’t a god of everything going well. God isn’t a god of having your life all in order. God isn’t a god of fair weather.
God is certainly God in the midst of those things. But God is much more. It is in the midst of the terrible when we see the true nature of God, if we just open our eyes, ears, and hearts.
The theology of the cross should remind us that it is in the cross that we see a fuller picture of God’s character. God is willing to go to death. God doesn’t avoid the unpleasantness, the pain, the suffering, the death. No, God willingly goes. Because God, in Jesus, became fully human along with being fully divine. And in Jesus, God experienced the fullness of what it means to be human – to suffer, to be in pain, to be dehumanized, to be sacrificed, to be worthless compared to an idol and power.
This Sunday we’ll read how Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. A better translation is that he was moved to his very core – as if his bowels were ripped out of him. That kind of visceral response is fully human. God knows what it is like to suffer, to experience pain, to die. This is what the incarnation is all about. That’s not to diminish the good emotions and things. He experienced those too.
But it is in the cross that God’s true character is revealed to us. It is how we know that God is here. Now. Active.
Where is God? God is with God’s people. Serving them. Being with them. Feeding them. Comforting the afflicted. Sheltering the homeless, giving food to the hungry, caring for the sick, releasing those who are bound. God is here. And we are invited to follow. To do likewise.