Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Where is God When I Need Him


"God did this to me," the teenage boy on crutches told me.

Ben (not his real name), was born with horribly deformed legs. Every other part of his body was healthy and fully functional, but his legs wouldn’t support him. They were bent and twisted, and if he tried to stand without the aid of crutches he lost his balance and crashed to the floor.

Ben was good natured and cheerful most of the time, but when he talked about his legs his disposition changed visibly. "God did this to me," he would say, with an angry growl in his voice.

"How do you know it was God who did this to you," I asked naively. I wasn’t so much trying to counter his accusation against God as I was trying to learn his reasoning.

"My dad told me," Ben replied. "My dad says that if God was good and loving he wouldn’t let something like this happen to a person. It’s God’s fault dad says, and now my dad doesn’t believe in God."

Ben’s youth minister intervened at this point and redirected his negative thought pattern and speech. He said, "Ben, you don’t really believe that about God. Your dad is angry about what happened to you and he is giving you these criticisms." That ended the conversation.

But it didn’t end the conversation in my mind. Many times I have wondered what I would think about God if my legs were weak and twisted and couldn’t transport me across a room. What if I had to lie on my back and wrestle for 30 minutes every morning just to put on pants, shoes and socks, because I couldn't stand up? Would I blame God? Would I ask, "God, where are you when I need you?"

In fact, I have asked that question a few times, in emergency rooms, in counseling sessions, at funerals. "God, if you are going to make an appearance to offer healing, insight and comfort, now is the time to do it! Please give us a sense of your presence!"

Why does it seem like those times we need God the most, for our ailing bodies or hurting spirits, he isn’t around? Jim Dobson offers insight into this question in his book, When God Doesn’t Make Sense. Our ability to believe or not believe in the care and presence of God is often a matter of perception. "Because (some sufferers) don’t ‘feel’ his presence, they can not believe he cares" (p.66). But is our feeling an accurate reflection of reality?

In Luke 24 two disciples were discussing the recent death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Their faces were downcast, sad, because they were obviously disappointed that Jesus died. Their hope of the new kingdom perished with the apparent failure of Jesus’ mission.

A third man, a mystery guest, joined this duo. Together they walked, talked and sat down to a meal. After a prayer by the mystery guest the eyes of the first two men were opened and they recognized their visitor as Jesus.

How many times have we cried out to God in anger and frustration over our deep need, wondering where God was, and all the time he was present in a very personal way? Perhaps his presence was mediated through the prayer of a friend, a handshake, a hug or pat on the back. But he was there.

Our feelings are not a good gauge for determining if God cares. God does care and he is present in the lives of his faithful sufferers, whether a teenage boy with crippled legs or a young mother and father praying fervently for their child. God is as real in our lives as Jesus was to the disciples on the Emmaus Road, even if our perception doesn’t always allow us to see him. Pray, and be faithful, and one day our eyes will be opened.

Warren Baldwin


  1. Warren,
    This reaches out to me. My father was born with Polio and was not supposed to be able to walk. With the assistance of one tough grandmother, my dad finally learned how to walk at age 7. Does he blame God..I'm not really certain. I do know that I have learned to marvel at God's creation through watching God work in the life of my father, even though my dad doesn't know it.
    I continue to pray that his eyes are opened and that he can come to learn what a powerful creator we have.
    Thanks. Dusty

  2. I really enjoyed this and I think it will help me also. My sister-in-law was paralyzed in a car accident when she was 17 (about 12 years ago) and she often comes to me when she is angry with God. I often have a hard time with these discussions because while I have been mad at myself, someone else, a situation, or even Satan - I have never been mad at God. Even when some very bad things happened to me as a kid it was just never my reaction. I really think this will help me in future discussions with her. Because although I feel like I do really awful in these discussions maybe it is my own admission that I cannot possibly understand how hard it is to be in that wheelchair day after day that keeps her coming back to talk to me time and time again. Thanks for the post!

  3. Dusty - This is an amazing story. I'll join you in that prayer for your dad.

    Tricia - I'm sorry your sister-in-law is still angry with God, but it is understandable. It is at least a sign that faith is still alive in her.


  4. Hi Warren,

    Just following up on some out-of-touch friends tonight and came across your blog. It certainly speaks to what many of us face and go through in our lives. I always say that Job didn't curse God but he wasn't exactly celebrating. In fact, he got pretty testy. And then we see God reveal to him that we can't always know and see with the eternal mind God has. That said, it's STILL hard to sit with chronic conditions that will never go away and never get better, barring a miracle or death.

    Thank you for writing such a though provoking article. The more we are afflicted the more important it is to lean because you're right - we can't go on feelings. We have to trust the one who has, for whatever reason, called us into the travels and travails of the road we will walk.

    Warmest Regards,


  5. Oh, thank you dear brother for sharing this. God is real and loves us regardless of our feelings. I needed to hear this today. I've been in an Eyore state of mind for awhile, intermittently asking God to rescue me and blaming Him. Your words were the enouragement I needed to hang on and believe for sunnier days.

    Bless you,

  6. I have several urgent prayer requests at arise 2 write.