The Burning Question: Where Was God?
By Duane Hewitt
It may well be the most difficult and compelling question ever posed – and it was called out by none other than Christ in his most difficult hour: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46).
The weight of this question should bear heavily upon us, both in our fellowship with Christ as much as in our quest to know our Creator. Where was God during Christ’s most difficult hour? And how could Christ, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation; free of sin and blameless, be driven to call out so? Death was imminent; he was in fulfillment of destiny. Was it physical agony?
We must feel compelled to understand Christ’s plea because it leaves us with no less than two challenging issues: Why God would allow His son to be driven to call out this way? And how Christ – with his knowledge of the Father – could feel compelled to do so?
Remember: Though He died in mortal flesh, we are speaking about Christ. He commanded the elements, healed the sick, and drove out evil spirits. Despite being humble by nature, he had strength and power beyond our comprehension. Since we have testimony that He was heard to cry these words, we must consider the significance of this to our own understanding.
It is a question that extends deeply into our own earthly sorrows…
A quick tally concerning a darkly disturbing topic reveals troubling numbers: Suicide – the most severe expression of despair, where pain exceeds resources to cope – is on the increase. According to the 2014 World Health Organization (WHO), more than 800,000 people die around the globe every year by suicide. Even if we try to apply the rationale that some suicides were due to mental illness, or that others involved people who did not understand the permanence of their actions, it does not negate that sufficient help was not available to these people when that help was needed the most. Were these people abandoned in their darkest hour? Why?
How many of us grapple with this most difficult question… God, where are you? In our most demanding hour, we call out. Some are answered. Others are not. Why and why not? If Christ in his anguish felt abandoned, what then can we expect? What about those many people who took their lives because their pain exceeded their resources to cope? Suicide is just one disturbing aspect of human suffering.
Hypothesis: Is it possible that because Christ Himself later tells us that because he was given dominion over heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18), that we are to accept, on faith, our belief in God and receive our suffering as a prelude to something better? Yet we are not firstborn, we are just flawed and frail humans, so such a conclusion seems too difficult, too unreasonable.
From all that Christ accomplished while he walked in this world (John 21:25 “…even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”), that one question in Christ’s final hour should strike us to the core. Was He abandoned, even briefly? – And if so, why?
Perhaps we need to accept that we cannot possibly understand the depth of Christ’s despair and agony. How, after all, can we possibly equate the profound suffering of none other than Christ with human terms? For this reason, we may be left with other, unanswered questions. Perhaps, too, if we truly believe that He, the firstborn over all creation, suffered and died for our sins, then it may be that we must endure through faith our belief in something far greater and far more beautiful than we can possibly fathom (“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9).
If this is the case, perhaps, then, any amount of suffering is all worthwhile. But it still leaves the question why some are pushed to suffer unto death by their own hand.
Copyright 2013-2017 Duane Hewitt. All rights reserved.
1 Corinthians 2:9
The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC:
World Health Organization – Suicide Prevention:
Canadian Mental Health Association – Suicide statistics: