Where Is God?

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  September 28, 2013

Many years ago I was working as a Chaplain in a Veteran’s Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. On one particular occasion, I had to drop off some paperwork after my normal shift and went into the I.C.U. with my then four-year-old daughter. She stopped in the doorway and with a look of confusion asked me, “Daddy? Where is God?” 

Such a beautiful and profound question from the mouth of a babe! There she stood, in the open door of a large room filled with 20 beds surrounding a large nurse’s station. Most of the curtains were drawn for patient privacy, but some remained open. Monitors beeped. A couple of doctors scurried about. A small team of medical people were giving particular attention to one patient who could not be seen amid the crowd. Two families sat at bedsides, silently staring at one another with that dazed look of exhausted waiting. Nurses were charting, alarms were chirping, ventilators were hissing, and the whole place quietly hummed with the haunting drone of a large-city Intensive Care Unit at maximum capacity. “Daddy? Where is God?” 

The question hit me right in the chest like the jolting force of the defibrillator paddles so commonly used on our patients in cardiac arrest. Only this time, nobody yelled “Clear” before the surging pulse stole my breath. 

Caught in that awkward moment when a father simply does not know what to say to his curiously innocent child, my mind raced with how to adequately respond to her arresting probe. Every theological argument I could think of raced through my head. I quickly thought through a half-dozen Bible verses, a few theological explanations, even considered how to side step and avoid answering all together. “What do you mean, Sweetie,” I questioned hesitantly. 

“Daddy. All these sick people. All these machines. All this beeping. I don’t understand Daddy. Where’s God?” At this, a tender tear welled up in her eye and I realized that there would be no escape from this moment. 

I recalled how I had told my daughter that I went to the hospital every day to help people pray, talk to them about God, and help them find hope in God while they were at the hospital. And then, in a moment of paternal horror, I found myself unable to tell this same child where God was in the very place I presumed to represent God. 

“God is right here,” I timidly responded. “Where?” she quickly responded, demanding a more tangible explanation in place of my clearly inadequate response. “Where do you think God is,” I asked her while stalling for time to think up a more adequate, yet still age-appropriate, answer to her inquisition. 

“I don’t know Daddy,” she answered. “I guess he is over there.” She pointed to the small cluster of people surrounding one particular patient. “Why is that?” I asked her, looking at the focused attention all around that bed. “I don’t know, Daddy. I guess it is because that’s where all the people are trying to help someone who is sick. I think that is where God is.” 

Again, without the stark warning of someone yelling “Clear!” I found myself feeling the life-saving shock that took my breath. Yet, this time, not by the jolt of a question to which I had no response, but to the fact that I had suddenly found God again! Out of the mouths of babes come some of the most profound statements of faith imaginable and also the transforming power of God’s awesome presence. God was there, in that very room, yet not just where the people were helping someone who was sick. God was in a four-year-old child who was looking for God. That day, God (and Celeste Rogers) saved my faith!