Where was Jesus when multiple bombs exploded along this year’s Boston Marathon route, shattering loved ones’ hearts and instilling fear into an already anxious culture?
Where was He ten days earlier when Pastor Rick Warren’s son took his life into his own hands?
Where was He during recent tsunamis, natural disasters, and cruel expressions of man’s inhumanity to man?
Where was He during your darkest hours?
Fortunately, the Bible is not silent on this desperate, all-important question. Two thousand years ago one of Jesus’ closest friends, Lazarus, died of an illness, and when Jesus arrived at the grave site Lazarus’ sister, Martha, greeted Him with the indictment: “If you had been here my brother would not have died.”
Martha’s bitter words were an ancient re-phrasing of our modern question: “where was God.” When Jesus responded to Martha He revealed how He might respond to us. When confronted with the question “where were you when we needed you most” Jesus responded in three ways.
First, He assured Martha that natural death and tragedy are not the ultimate trump cards. In John 11:23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Second, He wept. He entered Martha’s pain and cried beside her at her brother’s tomb.
Third, He released God’s life-giving power, raising Lazarus from the dead and calling him out of the grave as a timeless picture of God’s final victory over death.
It’s impossible to adequately explain why God would allow so many senseless tragedies. However, through Jesus we know that God is neither indifferent nor inactive to our plight. He sees, He cares, and He offers an eternal life that is able to heal even the greatest of our earthly traumas. So while we ache, weep, question, and serve we also hold out hope for Jesus’ promised life.