JUNE 2020

Where is God?

Reflection by Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko, General Secretary, The Bible Society of India

One of the questions that I face in times like COVID- 19 is, “Where is God?” I understand and deeply sympathize with the question. I do. But I need to ask why is it only in the hard times that we tend to ask this question? When the sun is shining, and times are good, and life is comfortable, and our team is winning, and our health is strong, why are we not plagued in those moments with the question, “Where is God?”

Well, the Bible tells us. It is because sin blinds us from the background of God’s goodness. So, when times are good, we tend to ignore God, but when times are bad, we tend to blame God. Sin blinds us from the background of God’s loving care that God gives every day—in the day of prosperity and in the day of adversity.
Nevertheless, the question is raised by me and us all during very critical moments like now as we live in a situation of ambiguity and uncertainty. Psalm 88 is a typical example we can look into. For the Psalmist, his troubles are overwhelming and he does not have the strength to face them (vss.3-4). He feels he is like one of those with whom God has no longer any dealings, neither remembered or cared for (vs.5). The Psalmist assumes he is suffering because God is angry with him. He feels the pressure of God’s wrath going over him like the waves of the sea or a river in flood(vs.7). We do not know what he has done to deserve God’s wrath. But it is even possible that he is wrong in interpreting his suffering as a sign of God’s wrath. Not only is the sufferer cut off from God, he is also cut off from his closest friends(vs.8). For some reason they find him an abomination. The darkness of the grave is drawing near and he can see no prospect of light. He has been crying out for deliverance to the one who could save him, but God has been silent. The Psalmist raises the question as to why God is hiding His face? (vs.14).

Most Rev Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Britain’s most senior churchman and effectively the leader of Anglicans worldwide in a meeting at Bristol Cathedral, UK admitted that there are moments when he asks himself “Is there a God?” and “Where is God? He also said that Christians cannot explain why suffering exists in the world but that the answer was faith.

His remarks came in an interview conducted as part of a service at Bristol Cathedral, during a visit to the diocese. Asked whether, despite his high profile as a religious leader, he ever struggles with doubt, he said: “Yes I do”.

There have been four different approaches to this very pertinent question, “Where is God?”. The first approach is Deism, belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The Second approach is Theism, belief in the existence of a god or gods, specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe. The third approach is Atheism, lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. The fourth approach is Dualism, the religious doctrine that the universe contains opposed powers of good and evil, especially seen as balanced equals. The question “Where is God?” is relevant to all the advocates of the above approaches. A Deist would say “God is there but distant”. A Theist would say, “God is there, but here right in the midst of challenges and possibilities of life. An Atheist will refuse to accept the existence of God and therefore will say boldly “God is not there”. Yet there have been many atheists in human history who have confessed that there is some superior power which controls the world but is not bothered to know more than that conclusion. A Dualist will definitely say, “there is a God; in fact, there are two Gods”. Among all these approaches in the discussion about God, the question “Where is God?” becomes more disturbing to a Theist. A Theist believes that there is a God and God is there intervening in human history but yet he/she feels the absence of God many a time in life especially in contexts like COVID-19 when we see so many human lives have become extinct and so many are still struggling with the impact of the virus in several ways ! Among the Theists, some get disillusioned and deeply troubled. But there are also theists who are mature and deep in their spirituality that they are able to see God both in ups and downs of life. This affirmation that God is there and God is there even in what is happening in the world today is a far more helpful way in which one can face life. We live and we will continue to live despite all odds because God is there!

Where is God? Well, let me ask you … Where was Jesus? Remember Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). So, where was Jesus? In John 2 we find Him in Cana making wine at a wedding. But then in John 11, we find Him in Bethany crying tears at a funeral. Where is Jesus? He is at the wedding and at the funeral. And if you have seen Jesus, you have seen God. So, where is God?

  • He is at the wedding and at the funeral.
  • God is there in our good days and in our bad days.
  • Because He is the God of Good Friday and the God of Easter Sunday.
  • He is the God of the spectacular and God of the ordinary and mundane.
  • He is the God of the hills and the God of the valleys.
  • He is God in the midst of our laughter and in the midst of our tears.
  • He is God when the market is up and God when the market is down.
  • He is God in the light and God in the dark.

God is in both places—God is in all places. God is carefully and sovereignly in control of it all. God is our ever-present help in time of need. So, where is God? God is with us here and now.

Read more

BSI Distributes Bibles and Tracts at Quarantine Centres

The Bible Society of India, Dimapur Auxiliary distributed 221 ESV Bible and Bible Tracts at quarantine centres in Dimapur on the 20th of May through the Nagaland Covid19 core committee members at the reception centre, Agri Expo (Dimapur Quarantine Centre).

A Press release from the BSI Auxiliary Secretary, Rev. Dr. Yiepetso Wezah stated that, in the midst of fear and anxiety during the pandemic, there was hope and comfort in Jesus Christ and that the Bibles were distributed to encourage the old timers who returned back to the Word of God.

Earlier, Rev. Dr. N. Paphino, President and Rev. Dr. Yieptso Wezah, Auxiliary Secretary with staff handed over Bibles to the core committee members and offered prayers for the front-line workers.

The BSI Dimapur Auxiliary thanked Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko, General Secretary, and Mr. Paul Stephen, Director, Publishing and Marketing Department for their acknowledgement and support.

The BSI, Dimapur Auxiliary lauded the Nagaland COVID 19 core committee team members for going the extra mile towards containing the spread of Covid-19 in Nagaland.

Read more

Appointments

Mr. Caleb Martin Hilton, was appointed as the Associate Director, BSI Media and Special Audience Department with effect from May 1st, 2020. He is married to Mrs. Jeba Martin and they have two children – daughter Annie Lois Martina and son Joshah Luke.

Rev. John Vikram was appointed as the Auxiliary Secretary, BSI Andhra Pradesh Auxiliary with effect from May 1st, 2020. He is married to Mrs. Shilpa Benarjee and they have two daughters Lisney and Jesney.

On May the 21st, 2020 we had lost our dear friend Mrs. T. Lalsangzuali (1959-2020), Executive Committee member of the Mary Jones Women’s Fellowship. Her funeral took place on the 22nd of May. Rev. Remlalfaka, Secretary, Aizawl Auxiliary shared a word of comfort and conveyed condolences to the bereaved family on behalf of the BSI. Mrs. T. Lalsangzuali had been instrumental in the BSI ministry at the local as well as the Auxiliary level for good many years. It is indeed a great loss for our Auxiliary and for the Mary Jones Women’s Fellowship in particular. She is survived by her husband Rev. Lengluta and their children Ms. H. Lalthakimi, Mrs. H. Lalneihzovi, Ms. Rebecca Lalroluahpuii and Mr. Samuel Vanmalsawma.

We also deeply mourn at the loss of our dear friend Ms. Lalruatdiki Chhangte (1992-2020) who passed away on the 22nd of May 2020. Rev. Dr. Vanlalauva, President of the Aizawl Auxiliary conveyed condolences and words of comfort for the bereaved family. Ruatdiki was a well-known singer and BSI Campaigner, who toured the length and breadth of Mizoram with the BSI campaigners for the Bible cause. We will miss her dearly. She is survived by her Mother Mrs. R. Lalhmangaihi, her siblings – Mr. Jimmy Lalmuanawma, Mr. Jeremy Lalmuanpuia, Ms. Lalrintluangi and Mr. Lalhriatkima.

COVID-19

Dharavi, Asia’s biggest slum with a population of around 8.5 lakhs residing within a meager 2.3 sq km and using around 8000 common toilets. This clogged living condition is one of the major reasons for the spread of Covid-19. Most of the houses here are 10X10 feet or even smaller and 6 to 8 people dwell in each of those tiny rooms. A large population of Christians stay in Dharavi out of which many are our BSI donors. Around 80% of the total number of Covid-19 cases in Maharastra state are from Dharavi.

AMPHAN CYCLONE

There was no electricity, water, or internet after a devastating cyclone hit Kolkata last month. Reports confirm around 100 lives lost in and around the city of Kolkata. Water logged up to three to four feet. More than 15 thousand trees have been uprooted and damaged and the loss to property has been unprecedented in recent times.

Read more