Foreword – By Ray Johnston


Ray Johnston, Lead Pastor, Bayside, Roseville, CA

Foreword to Where Was God When I Needed Him?

Like most Christians, I go to church—almost every weekend. There is singing. There is praying. There is an offering. And there is always a sermon.

Unlike most Christians—I am the one speaking.

I am a pastor, and every weekend I have the privilege to speak to thousands of people. It’s called a sermon. And all preachers and all sermons and all churches have one unspoken rule—during the sermon, no one ever gets to stand up, stop the sermon, and ask a question!

If that day ever comes, I am convinced the question would be: Where in the World Was God When I Needed Him? What do I do when the promises of faith collide with real life? What do I do when, no matter how many times I ask, pray, or beg for a miracle, nothing happens? What do I do when I need answers, and none arrive? And most frustrating of all, what do I do when well-meaning, religious experts deliver pat answers and none of them work?

God tells us there are secrets He is keeping, such as the date and time of Christ’s return. Other secrets He has revealed to us, which we learn through prayerful study of the Bible. And yet people sometimes (often) claim to know every answer to every question, even the mysteries that have baffled philosophers and theologians for centuries. To state simplistic answers in complex situations doesn’t meet a person’s needs, and especially when those answers hurt rather than help. Let’s face it: sometimes there are no simple answers. And that’s what this book is all about.

When we are shocked by circumstances that we didn’t see coming, when we face events that stretch our ability even to grasp reality, when life spins out of control, we generally search for a handle—a piece of information, a scrap of wisdom, to get some understanding. We look for things to tell ourselves about it, and ways to live through it. Lots of well-meaning people will provide all kinds of trite answers to try to help the situation. In the end, we’re stuck with the dilemma: what do we do when God doesn’t seem to be there for us?

In the following pages, Dan Myers generously shares his walk through the life and death of his daughter Renee. By so doing, he provides us with proof that we can live through the darkest valleys of life, even if we never understand them. We may never know exactly what happened from a spiritual point of view. We may never gain clarity on certain unknown and unknowable truths. And yet, there is a certainty of known truth to which we can cling.

There is a difference between certainty and clarity. When tragedy strikes, we want clarity. Why would God let this happen? Why me? Why my family? But what we often get is certainty. In Dan’s case, this is what I know with certainty:

  • Dan’s daughter, Renee, was loved every second of every day of her life.
  • God was honored and blessed by the kinds of decisions Dan and his wife, Dorene, made for Renee.
  • Christ’s love was evident through the support Dan’s family received from relatives, neighbors, and friends.
  • If every parent cared as much about their child as Dan and Dorene cared about Renee, we would live in a much better world.
  • No life is ever devoid of meaning, and somehow God used and will continue to use Renee’s life in ways we cannot comprehend.
  • Renee’s last breath here was followed by her first breath there in the arms of Jesus.
  • The next time Dan sees Renee, they will both be more alive than they have ever been.
  • God is close to Dan, because the God Christians worship understands what it means to lose a child.

In Dan’s book, you will not read about the miraculous recovery of a child that came close to death. You will not read a phenomenal account of divine healing. What you will read is the story of parents who prayed for a miracle and never stopped praying, just because that’s what the Bible said to do.

You’ll read about a loss of life, but not a loss of love; about loving parents and a loving community that rallied around an ailing child who grew through her adulthood without ever being aware of it. And you’ll read about how Dan and his wife, Dorene, came to understand that oft-quoted and just-as-often misunderstood passage was written by a man named Paul who knew firsthand the worst kind of betrayal, persecution, grief, and scrapes with death, and who inscribed the answer and the mystery: “We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, GNT).

Ray Johnston
Lead Pastor, Bayside Church, Granite Bay, CA