There are more than a few people wondering where God is in the midst of the current pandemic. The reason they can’t seem to locate God is that they are looking for God, if not love, in all the wrong places. I have written about this before, but it takes repetition to overwrite an old message that has been deeply embedded: God is a companion, not a rescuer. Maybe that’s why God lets us mess things up over and over again – we, and not God, are the ones who have to clean our messes up. Of course, many of us just stand in the wreckage of our bad choices waiting for God to come clean them up. When that doesn’t happen, we decide that God doesn’t exist rather than recognize God isn’t our personal housekeeper.
Are you looking for God in the midst of this pandemic? Perhaps you should start by lowering your gaze from the heavens to the people around you. The truth is that everybody and everything you see is a bearer of God. If you want to see God, look at the suffering person next to you and help them. If you want to experience God, allow yourself to be helped without holding back. If you want to work with God, find some people interested in helping in a similar way and work with them to improve a situation. You may find you have been looking for a flamboyant, drag queen God when the truth is that God is much more mainstream and so you need to revise your search terms. Look instead in the mundane, the everyday, the decidedly unspectacular. You will find an abundance of God there!
As someone who has been in the religion and spirituality biz for a long time now (cue the old guy jokes), I can tell you that the most frequently asked question in religion is some version of the title to this post. Why didn’t God ______________? You can fill in the blank with anything you can imagine – and people do exactly that. Why did Grandma die, why didn’t God save my puppy, why was I assaulted, why did it rain on my wedding day, why does God allow [everything we don’t like], the list goes on and on. The answers given to that question, sometimes but not always by well meaning people, are almost as numerous as the questions asked. All of them, save the one I am about to give you, are nonsense.
The reason God didn’t do what you wanted or hoped God would do is because you misunderstand the nature of God. It’s not your fault, you got your faulty images from institutional religion. Institutional religion lies to you all the time because it isn’t in the truth business. Institutional religion is in the marketing business. They want to keep you coming back for more and putting money in the collection plate. They try to get you to do that because that’s how they stay in business. Therefore, they will tell you some version of “it’s your fault.” God doesn’t rescue you because you are a sinner, or don’t have enough faith, or love the wrong people, or used to masturbate to a picture of Marie Osmond in a Tiger Beat magazine. These are all wrong answers.
The correct answer is that God doesn’t rescue us, God journeys with us. God isn’t a superhero or a helicopter parent, God is a companion. The vision of God you have been sold is defective.
I will be writing more about this in the near future, but in the meantime you might want to consider every story you ever heard from the scriptures of your religious tradition. If you do, you will find that many of them contradict the teachings of your tradition. You will come to see that institutional religion, and in some cases the authors of scripture, make their living not by telling you the truth but rather by convincing you that their version of God is better than the others. Many times they tell you that right after insisting that there is only one God – a direct contradiction to their marketing campaign. The good news is that you can learn to see for yourself, and clearly!