When suffering with and for the families and people of the Newtown tragedy, many people ask, “Where was God?”  The following is one little response, my humble response, to that question:

Where was God in this tragedy?

When I heard of the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, I desperately wanted to say or do something for all those suffering people in Connecticut as well as throughout the United States.  As I thought and thought about what to say, I kept remembering another tragic story which I heard many years ago, and maybe that remembering is a God nudge.  So I want to share that story with you:

In 1991-Jerry Sittser and his family were returning home from a visit to an Indian reservation.  It was dark.  “Ten minutes into our trip home,” Jerry says, “ I noticed an oncoming car on a lonely stretch of highway driving extremely fast.  I slowed down at a curve, but the other car did not.  It jumped its lane and smashed head-on into our minivan.

In an instant, a tragic accident claimed three generations of my family: my mother, my wife, and my young daughter.”

In Jerry Sittser’s book, A Grace Disguise, he describes his long, painful, grief journey, but in this space, I just want to focus on one of his experiences which speaks to the question: Where was God in this tragedy?

Jerry says, “The memory of the accident was etched into my mind the moment it occurred. For a long time it was a source of torment to me. Awake and sleeping I would see and relive that horrific scene.  Then one night, as I lay sleepless in bed, I saw the accident in a new light.  I was standing in a field with my three children, near the scene of the accident.  The four of us were watching our minivan as it rounded that same curve. An oncoming car jumped its lane, just as it had in the accident, and collided with our van.  We witnessed the violence, the pandemonium, and the death, just as we had experienced it in real life.  Suddenly a beautiful light enveloped the scene.  It illuminated everything.  The light forced us to see in even greater detail the destruction of the accident.  But it also enables us to see the presence of God in that place.  I knew in that moment that God was there at the accident.  God was there to welcome our loved ones into heaven.  God was there to comfort us.  God was there to send those of us who survived in a new direction.  God was there.

This waking dream did not give me an answer to the question of why the accident happened in the first place. It did not erase my grief or make me happy. But it did give me a measure of peace. God was there, helping and welcoming my loved ones into heaven.

Jesus promises, “I am with you always.”  Matthew 28:20

Romans 8:38 promises us that, “Nothing can separate you from the love of God.”

In Matthew 1:22,23, we read, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel: (which means, “God with us”.)”


To continue thinking about the question, “Where was/ is God? ” please go to Michael Hidalgo’s blog.

For Advice on Helping Children Cope after Trauma:  Click here

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder is the founder of the Wisdom of the Wounded ministry. She lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband Larry.


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