As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?[b]
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
“Christian, where is your God? I mean it. You claim that there is a loving God who created everything and is all good. Where is he? Doesn’t he see that the world is in chaos. Medical pandemics. Territorial wars. Social and racial injustice. Undeserved brutality. These things abound. Love, patience, kindness – the so-called fruits of the spirit of this God – where are they! Christian, where is your God?”
These are the taunts of the world. And, if we are being honest with ourselves, these thoughts fears and terrors creep into even the most faithful of Christian psyches as well as we confront the many troubles of this world. Perhaps it is a comfort to know that we are not alone in this struggle. We are not alone in pondering and questioning how such terrible things can happen in a world created so good and governed by such a benevolent God. The Psalmist in Psalm 42 addresses this very same question.
The Old Testament people of Israel had a very concrete and secure answer to this question – “Where is your God.” God was in the temple. It was the place that he was pleased to dwell. His presence had been with them on Mt. Sinai when he cut a new covenant with them, was with them through a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, and had come to rest and remain on the temple. However, despite this presence trouble and hardship continued to come. The temple was destroyed. The people were taken into captivity. One foreign dynasty after another began to rule over God’s chosen people. The people found hope by continuing to re-live and re-tell the story of the day when God had delivered his people with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
So, what is our answer today? Where is our God. He is located in the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is the new temple, and he himself has promised both to send us His spirit, and to be with us always unto the end of the age. We know God is present with us even now. We look to his word that comes to us through the words of our pastors, through the pages of the scriptures. We look to his sacraments – simple water washing away all sin, simple bread and wine giving us a taste of Jesus himself. God is with us through His Church.
And yet, God can seem so far away from us. Trouble does come. So what do we do? Like the people of Israel, we re-tell the story of God. We find hope in his deliverance. We speak over and over again how God has saved us through the blood of Jesus. How he delivered us through the cross of Calvary and the empty tomb of Easter morning. Where is our God? Our God is found in the truth and reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Lord God, allow me today to find you where you have promised to be found – in your Church, in your Word and Sacraments, in Jesus. Amen.
Written by: Pastor Koenig