Sometimes you have one of those conversations. Just the other night I was hanging out with a student who is absolutely brilliant. She was struggling with the idea that God is always present. In fact she was even using big words like omnipresent. Pretty impressive huh?
For most of us God's constant presence is a comforting thought. Who wouldn't want a loving, caring compassionate God to always be near? But for my friend the reality of God's constant presence is very confusing.
You see, she's a victim of abuse and can't quite understand how a God who is loving could have been present in the middle of her abuse. She understands God's presence intellectually and theologically but struggles tremendously with her feelings. (doesn't that makes sense?)
She asked a great question, "if God is always present was he even there during my abuse?"
My response? "Where do you think God was?"
In an appropriately angry voice she replied,
"I don't know, maybe sitting in a lounge chair drinking a mountain dew or something?"
It's a raw and honest response.
The whole conversation made we wonder. There are many students in our ministries who are hurting and confused. I want to be careful that I don't over simplify and give antiseptic / simple answers to deep difficult questions.
Yes, Jesus does bring restoration. Yes, he is always present. But struggling through the problem of evil is very complex, especially for those who have experience evil first hand.
As a reminder to us all, let's not over simplify complex issues, especially this issue of evil. Statements like, "life hurts God heals" and "Jesus brings healing" and "all things work together for good" are true but typically come in a long process for people who have been hurt deeply. In fact, those promises only become fully true when we go to heaven.
Jesus has a tremendous amount of compassion for us and our students who have been abused and forgotten. There are no quick fixes, let's not give the impression there are.
For the record, I don't think God enjoys Mountain Dew. I'm just saying.