Where is God? This is the universal question of our minds, hearts, and souls.  We look for God in all the right places, but often come up without a sense of true encounter.  Emptiness, loneliness, and feeling of abandonment follows us as we search and search.  I am reminded of the haunting, sad song “Where is Love” from the musical Oliver.  But maybe all the right places are not so right after all.  Perhaps we will meet God most authentically in the faces of those who suffer. After all, this is just where Jesus points us.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta found and recognized God best in the faces of every orphan, invalid, leper, and impoverished sufferer.  It was from them that her infectious joy and boundless compassion came.  Mother Teresa was following the directive of Jesus who said; “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

My own search took me from church to church, and from tradition to tradition.  But I best found God in the boys, girls, and adults who came to me suffering from horrible abuse, often with chronic substance use disorders.  They were at the end of their ropes. The people closest to them usually had given up all hope.  And sure enough, there was God in disguise.  The pain in their eyes reflected the pain of Jesus. They carried the weight of a cross I never had to carry. It soon became clear that those I had come to serve were actually serving me.

In answer to the question posed at the beginning of this journal; God is hiding in plain sight.  If we are open to becoming vulnerable and are willing to risk suffering with those in pain, we will find God and Jesus everywhere.

Posted by Robert Jones

I have dedicated my life to serving adolescents and adults who suffer from the effects of childhood abuse and addictions. This work manifested in the creation or co-creation of seven outpatient treatment centers around the southeast. I studied at The School of Servant Leadership, Jubilee Center, in Washington, DC with Gordon Cosby and have been a retreat leader and faith formation director. My wife, Bonita and I live in Memphis, TN.

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