God is in our midst, suffering with us.
This was the answer to the question, “Where is God in this Pandemic?”, based on the webinar of the same title spearheaded by the PCEC Theological Commission on August 10.
The webinar on theodicy, which has garnered 6,100 views as of this writing, was designed to explain the recurring question, “How can a good and powerful God allow evil and suffering?”
Resource speaker Dr. Jonathan Exiomo (Southeast Asian Theological Schools) asserted that God makes himself felt in His apparent absence.
“We Evangelicals discern the apparent silence of God in the work of salvation through the Scriptures,” he said.
Quoting various authors, he presented six ways on how the Lord makes His presence felt:
- God is at work by using all things to fulfill His purposes and even uses evil for His glory and for our good (Grudem: 2004).
- While God uses evil to fulfill His purposes and even uses evil for His glory and for our own good, God never does evil, and is never to be blamed for evil
- Evil is a necessary accompaniment of the creation of humanity (Erickson: 2015)
- A reevaluation of what constitutes good and evil (Erickson: 2015) – Good is to be defined in relationship to the will and being of God. Good is what glorifies him, fulfills His will, conforms to His nature.
- The love of God the creator and provider is at work not only where life is sustained and enhanced but also where all that jeopardizes life and its fulfillment is resisted and set under judgment (Migliore, 3rd Edition: 2014).
- Sixth, the compassionate presencing of Jesus with the sufferers is a therapeutic experience (Nolasco, Jr: 2016)
Dr. Dick Eugenio (Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary) responded to Dr. Exiomo confirming from the Scriptures that “God is in our midst, suffering with us” and “always involved even in the turmoil and exigencies of life.” He pointed out that God listens to every hard question that people ask.
“Where is God? He is alongside us—or beside us, or with us—in the Holy Spirit!” Dr. Eugenio presented, quoting John 14:16-18. He also expressed that the Holy Spirit is actively present not just in times of blessing but in times of crisis,agony and suffering.
In addition, “the Spirit is not only Parakletos, along side us; he is also the Spirit of life preventing cosmic entropy. Where is God during the pandemic? He is here sustaining life.
He added that the question “Where is God?” is neither a bad inquiry nor an evidence of doubt for believers. “It is a rightful question that every reflective true believer should wrestle with. The question is a clear expression of faith seeking understanding.”
Furthermore, the question is also about the church’s moral and missional being, Dr. Eugenio said. Thus, He is present through Spirit-empowered believers who display compassion to their neighbors.