AT THE MOVIES: Where Was God?

by Phil Boatwright, posted Thursday, February 26, 2015 (3 years ago)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) -- An 89-minute documentary concerning the devastation caused by tornadoes that ripped through Moore, Okla., and Joplin, Mo., in 2013, gives us a thoughtful observation by survivors who came to realize that through the storms of life, God is always near.

"Where Was God? Stories of Hope After the Storm" will have a limited theatrical release in mid-March before being released on DVD May 1. The instructive and moving production won Best Feature Documentary at Trail Dance Film Festival in Oklahoma.

"Where was God?" is a question that will come up in each life, for at some point we all have or will experience ordeal of some kind. During those moments a person feels vulnerable, alone, and God seems so quiet. That's an unsettling thought, I know, but it's true. No one gets through life without problems. Over the years I found by reading celebrity bios that even the rich and famous are unable to avoid despair and pain. And let's face it, though others may have bigger problems than we, ours keep us awake at night.

So, how do we deal with them? And why does God allow these travails?

Beats me. But it doesn't surprise me. Nor should it surprise any of us who study God's Word. Did any character from the Old or New Testament avoid trials and tribulations?

If problems can't be escaped no matter how rich, famous, bright or beautiful one may become, then maybe there's an ethereal reason for these inescapable adversities. Maybe our struggle through toil and trouble is one of the main reasons we are here, for these woes cause us to trust in God.

By studying both the Old and New Testaments, one must come to the conclusion that the only way to please God is through faith. And our faith seems to be important to our Heavenly Father. "And without faith it is impossible to please God ..." (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). We see through a glass darkly, but remember, we're not alone and forgotten in the shadows. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).

When viewing Where Was God?, some may ask if God brings on catastrophes. And while viewing the sorrows of those on screen, surely other questions will enter our thinking. Does He cause the little child to die of leukemia or does He allow a blue-collar worker to lose his much-needed income? Does God bring heartbreak?

These puzzles befuddle even the most brilliant theologians, so don't expect too much profundity from this humble movie critic. But from studying His nature through the Word, God doesn't seem petty, unforgiving or vindictive. And when the next ordeal overwhelms you, remember you are not alone amid this tribulation. Others have been right where you are. We're brought face to face with those who have been right where you are, or may someday be. But our Lord does promise to be beside us during these times. "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand, and says to you, do not fear; I will help you" (Isaiah 41:13 NIV).

Who knows life's Big Picture? Someday, perhaps not in this life, our Heavenly Father may share life's reason ("Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promise." Psalms 25:14, The Living Bible). Until then, rest assured, the Big Picture is made up of billions of little pictures, for God, who cares for the little sparrows, is in the details.

Where Was God?, directed by Travis Palmer, gives us emotional therapy. It's a reminder that everyone goes through troubles. The people in this film remind us that they got through their ordeals. And their wounds have caused them to draw near to God and to reach out to others in pain.

Not rated, the subject matter in Where Was God? is handled with discretion, and is suitable for teens on up. More information on where and when this spiritually rewarding presentation will be released can be found on the website wherewasgod.com.

In addition to writing for Baptist Press, Phil Boatwright reviews films for www.previewonline.org and is a regular contributor to "The World and Everything In It," a weekly radio program from WORLD News Group. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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