How can we reconcile the goodness and justice of God with suffering that we see happening on a global scale through human trafficking? Gary Haugen, president of the International Justice Mission, offers a unique perspective on this frequently asked question in his book, Terrify No More.
For many of us, the ugliness of abuse and oppression in our world leads us, quite understandably, to ask: Where is God in the midst of such suffering? Even if we have drifted to a place in life where we rarely address God, there is something about the rank cruelty of exploitation and the naked brutality of human violence that seems to lift our objection almost involuntarily to something larger and beyond ourselves…
But over time, having seen the suffering of the innocent and the crushing of the weak all around the world, my plea has changed. More and more I find myself asking not, Where is God? but, Where are God’s people?
Given all the power and resources that God has placed in the hands of humankind, I have yet to see any injustice of humankind that could not also be stopped by humankind. I find myself sympathizing with a God who, speaking through the ancient prophet, told his people, “You have wearied the LORD with your words . . . by saying, . . . ‘Where is the God of justice?’ ” (Malachi 2:17 NIV). Increasingly, I feel quite sure of the whereabouts of God. My tradition tells of a Father in heaven who refused to love an unjust world from a safe distance, but took his dwelling among us to endure the humility of false arrests, vicious torture, and execution.
This is the God who could be found as “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3 NIV). The more I have come to know him, the harder it has become for me to ask such a God to explain where he has been. In fact, surprisingly, I don’t generally hear the victims of abuse doubting the presence of God either. Much more often I hear them asking me, “Where have you been?”