Jehovah Shammah – The Lord Is There (Ezekiel 48: 35). So often when bad or painful things happen, we ask, “Where was God?” But in Ezekiel 48: 35, God tell us that He is there. The word translate “there” is “shammah”. Interestingly, within the context of the verse, “there” is a symbolic name for Jerusalem.
This reality of “the God who is there” also appears elsewhere throughout Scipture. In Psalm 139: 7-10, we read, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me”.
(Psalm 23: 4) reminds us, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 46: 1) says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”.
In (Jeremiah 23: 23-24), God says, “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him/? Declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.”
In (Matthew 28: 20), Jesus promises His followers, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age”.
And in (John 14: 16-17), we read of the promise of the Holy Spirit-the third part of the one triune God- whom Jesus asked God the Father to send to be with Christ-followers still today: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for the dwells with you and will be in you”.
We often ask, “Where is God?” in times of deep pain or confusion-and it’s a very real question. But it’s like this story, related by Ravi Zacharias: “Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize winner an Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, tells of the time when he was in a concentration camp and was compelled, along with a few others, to witness the hanging of two Jewish men and one Jewish boy, The two men died quite instantly, but the dying of the young lad for some reason became protracted as he struggled for half an hour on the gallows. Somebody behind Wiesel was heard to mutter, ‘Where is God? Where is He?’ Then the voice ground out the anguish again ‘Where is He?’ Wiesel also felt the question irrepressibly springing from within him: ‘Where is God? Where is He?’ Then he heard a voice softly within him saying, ‘He is hanging there on the gallows’”. (Source: Cries of the Heart by Ravi Zacharias)
We serve a God who not only is a refuge for us in our suffering, but is also present with us in our suffering. In the foretelling of Christ in (Isaiah 53), Scripture tells us our Messiah would be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. Yet, the same chapter goes on to tell us that He has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”
He is, indeed, the God who is there.