As a Christian minister in the church I have been involved with quite a lot of people who have questions about God – what’s he like? How did he make the world, surely that’s just Science? Can he hear my prayers? – and so on. But the most common questions are ones about the God who “lets” bad things happen. Why did my child have to die? Why won’t God stop the wars in the world? If there is a God, why does he allow cancer to kill people? Why do floods and earthquakes destroy so much of our world?
I’m not sure I can answer those questions, and even though I have a lot of training and experience to come, I’m not sure even with 50 years service under my belt I could answer. But what I can say is that I believe in a God of compassion and love, who feels our pain at such things just as much (and even more so) than we do. I believe that when we are standing at the gravesides of our loved ones he is there with us, shielding us. And I believe that when it comes to war and destruction, he is with those who are caught up in it.
I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if at the darkest moments of it God wasn’t there with me in the middle of it all. I realise that not everyone sees it the same way as me, and there is a lot of angry questions directed at God along the lines of “allowing” or even “causing” bad things to happen. My prayer is that one day, most people would try to walk alongside him instead of running away from him, and maybe they will see him at work bringing comfort and love to those who need him. The taxi drivers taking people home after the Manchester bomb, the people who feed the hungry in soup kitchens and homeless shelters, the people who run towards disaster to help others when their instinct is to run away, the nurses and doctors who tend to sick children and their families, those who donate to charity… the list is endless, and so too – thankfully – is the love from God.