Where was God at the Boston Marathon?

Participants in the 2010 Boston Marathon in We...

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.

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Something beyond song

worship
worship

After our Sunday services this weekend at Grace a number of people commented to me about A.W. Tozer’s essay, “Something beyond song.” Since the weight of Tozer’s words seemed to resonate with so many people, I thought would post them here for you to read and enjoy as well.

“Both the Bible and the testimony of a thousand saints show that there is experience beyond song. There are delights, which the heart may enjoy, in the awesome presence of God that cannot find expression in language; they belong to the unutterable element in Christian experience. Not many enjoy them because not many know that they can. The whole concept of ineffable worship has been lost to this generation of Christians. Our level of life is so low that no one expects to know the deep things of the soul until the Lord returns. So we are content to wait, and while we wait we are wont to cheer our hearts sometimes by breaking into song.

Far be it from us to discourage the art of singing. Creation itself took its rise in a burst of song; Christ rose from the dead and sang among His brethren, and we are promised that they who dwell in dust will rise and sing at the resurrection. The Bible is a musical book and, next to the Scriptures themselves, the best book to own is a good hymnbook. But still there is something beyond song.

Where the Holy Spirit is permitted to exercise His full sway in a redeemed heart the progression is likely to be as follows: First, voluble praise, in prose speech or prayer or witness; then, when the crescendo rises beyond the ability of studied speech to express, comes song; when song breaks down under the weight of glory, then comes silence where the soul, held in deep fascination, feels itself blessed with an unutterable beatitude.

At the risk of being written off as an extremist or a borderline fanatic we offer it as our mature opinion that more spiritual progress can be made in one short moment of speechless silence in the awesome presence of God than in years of mere study. While our mental powers are in command there is always the veil of nature between us and the face of God. It is only when our vaunted wisdom has been met and defeated in a breathless encounter with Omniscience that we are permitted really to know, when prostrate and wordless the soul receives divine knowledge like a flash of light on a sensitized plate. The exposure may be brief, but the results are permanent.”[1]


[1] From A.W. Tozer’s The Root of the Righteous, (Camp Hill, PA, Christian Publications: 1955, 1986), 144-146.