Where is God when tragedy strikes? When events happen that break our hearts? When human beings inflict cruelty and suffering on one another?

Where was God on 9/11?  Where was God when Hurricane Katrina struck?  Where was God when the Asian Tsunami swept 250,000 people to their deaths in a matter of minutes? 

These and similar questions form the basis of nearly every quest for spiritual understanding, and nearly every individual crisis in faith.  In the thirty-five years I have worked to assist people who are grieving I have heard these questions from parents who have lost children, from heartbroken widows, from distraught victims of random violence, from people who have experienced spinal cord injury, from confused people of faith, and from cynical non-believers.

God is everywhere, in everything, and in everyone.  There is nothing but God.

If that is so - why do we so often feel so disconnected from God?  Why would an all-loving, all-powerful God leave us unprotected from danger?

Most of the spiritual teachings to which we have been exposed have offered us little insight into the answers to these questions.  They have also given us little preparation for life’s inevitable difficulties.

In some sense, this is a cultural problem.  Our culture tends to gravitate toward spiritual teachings that support our system of values rather than teachings that might question the wisdom of those values. We want to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.  But the great irony is - the more committed we have become to seeking pleasure - the less happy we have become.  The more material wealth we attain, the higher our levels of depression, anxiety, despair, drug and alcohol addiction, and self-destructive habits.

We often think of God as a kind of cosmic vending machine - put in a prayer and get what you want.  We also think of God as “anthropomorphic.”  That means, we see our Creator as a very large and complex human being who looks like us, thinks like us, experiences the same emotions we experience, and holds the same values we hold.

One of the primary differences between “Eastern” thought and “Western” thought is that Western spiritual traditions –Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – perceive a fundamental separation between God and His Creation. 

In the East there is no separation.  All perception of separation is regarded as an “illusion.”  If you can’t see God everywhere and in everything, you are experiencing illusion.  Nothing is separate from God.

If we look to quantum physics and unified field theory, we begin to understand that there is really only one substance - one energy - in the physical universe . . . and that energy is light.  And there is only one light.  Everything we perceive as a distinct form is just a patterns of that one light.

The entire process of evolution has been aiming toward a form of consciousness so fully developed that it can perceive that one light . . . and can know it as the essence of one’s own being, and as the essence of all Creation.  The states of consciousness we call “enlightenment” and “God-Realization,” refer to the culmination of awakened consciousness – fully aware of the Source of everything, and the interconnectedness of everything.

The most efficient means for awakening to the One Light is through deepening our capacity to love.  Love . . . real, spiritual love . . . Divine Love . . . is the expression of one-ness in form.  Not loving with the expectation of reward.  But loving purely for the sake of loving.  Pure Love doesn’t seek anything in return.  Spiritual awakening is the process of deepening our ability to love, expanding our awareness, and unfolding our true nature . . . our highest state of being.

Our highest state is Love.  That’s why the main thing we all seek in life is love.  It’s like going home.  Love is within us – Infinite, unbounded, Eternal Love.  Love is the expression of the One Light.  And God is Love. 

Every moment of happiness we have ever experienced has been a glimpse of our soul . . . a glimpse of the Love within us.

There is no loss, no disappointment, no injury, no illness which – in and of itself – can take away our inherent ability to be happy, to be loving, and thus to know God.  We can argue with the realities of life, and we can allow those arguments to temporarily cause us to lose the awareness of our inner Light.  But only temporarily.

Suffering is an inevitable part of human life.  There is no way around it.  But if we are willing to let it do its work on us, it can open us to amazing new levels of spiritual awareness . . . and eventually – enlightenment.

The process can be painful at times.  But we ultimately recognize that God . . . Love . . . truly is everywhere, in everyone, and in everything.  Even in us.


John Welshons is the author of When Prayers Aren’t Answered and Awakening from Grief. A much sought after speaker who offers lectures and workshops on terminal illness, grief, and other topics, he has been helping people deal with dramatic life change and loss for over 35 years. He is the founder and president of Open Heart Seminars and lives in New Jersey.  Visit his website www.openheartseminars.com.

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Based on the book When Prayers Aren’t Answered © 2007 John Welshons. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com or 800-972-6657 ext. 52.

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