GOD REALLY CARES

 

May 21, 2006 – Winbourne Park Long Term Care Centre

 

Psalm 139:1-24 1  O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5  You hem me in— behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

    7  Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10  even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11  If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," 12  even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16  your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

    17  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. 19  If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 20  They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21  Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? 22  I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. 23  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

Back in 1983, while I was at a leadership for my church youth group, one of my closest cousins became very seriously ill. While my aunt and my parents were at the hospital taking care of things my other cousins and I were left to our own devices. At some point during the evening one of my aunt’s neighbours came over and asked if she could pray with us. I remember feeling irritated that this would happen, partly because we hadn’t thought of it ourselves and partly because this was very hard on me. Within two weeks my cousin was dead, in spite of the prayers of many people, and I remember asking God why He given us what we had asked, what we had begged Him for.

 

I think that since that time I’ve kind of been doubtful that God would answer my prayers. I didn’t doubt God’s ability to answer prayer nor did I doubt that He wanted to answer prayer, I just doubted that He cared to answer my own prayers. Even though during this time I would pray and receive an answer, overall I was just not surprised whenever a prayer went unanswered.

 

For a long time one of the ways that I have been trying to change this is by looking for evidence that God cared when I prayed. Although I am not as far along this road as I hope to be I am further along than I was, God is working on my attitude and my ability to see His hand in my life. Just a few weeks ago, after a church meeting, I was walking to my car when I heard the song of nature from the meadow surrounding our church. Now I go almost everywhere with a pocket computer and this night was no exception. Leaving it on my car I walked over to the edge of the meadow to listen to the beauty of God’s creation. Dazzled by the joy of it, went back to my car and drove home; where I remembered that I had left my pocket computer on the roof of the car. It wasn’t there anymore. Now my pocket computer contains all the information that I need to do my job, without it I would be almost helpless, it would also cost several hundred dollars to replace iy. Needless to say I began to pray. I went back to the church with my wife and a flashlight and walked a good part of my route the next morning with my nephew, praying all the while. The next morning when I returned to my office I had a message from a total stranger who had found my pocket computer at almost the exact time that I had begun to pray about it. The interesting thing is that he had gone biking by our church because he thought that he had lost his cell phone and instead he found my pocket computer. (He found his cell phone later in his back yard.) I believe that God had convinced this man to go out looking for something he hadn’t really lost so that God could use him to find what I had lost.

 

I’m saying all that to say this: For some time I have been asking God to increase my faith so that I would be able to trust God and allow Him to accomplish His purpose in my life regardless of what happens to me…without complaining. This incident of the lost pocket computer confirmed to me once again that God does concern Himself with the small things of life, those things that are so trivial from our point of view that we are surprised when He does concern Himself with them. More things like this have been happening to me recently and I can only believe that God is answering my prayers to increase my faith. I am learning that God really cares not just as an idea but as a principle to live by. I am learning all over again that when I look for evidence that God cares I will find it. I am learning again that I can trust God, that He alone is worthy of my trust.

 

Why should you care about the stories I have told just now? I think you should care because I think that I am not the only person who has ever doubted that God can and does take an interest in our lives. Many people who have no problem trusting God in the abstract seem to have great difficulty trusting God in the particular. Like me they trusted God to keep the world turning, to keep the stars in their places and a whole lot of other great and grand and Godly tasks. But once it gets to the point of intersecting with “real” life trust in God is kind of laid aside and we roll up our sleeves and deal with what needs dealing with.

 

If we trust God to keep the world turning shouldn’t we also be able to trust God for our next breath? If we trust God to sustain us in eternity shouldn’t we also be able to trust God to sustain us in the instant after our last breath?

 

There are many reasons why this might happen but I’m not here do discuss them. The reasons we don’t trust God are not the important issues. The important issue is that we trust God. When we trust God, both in the abstract of running of the universe and in the particular of running of our lives, we allow God to be God and can then begin to live for Him rather than for ourselves.

 

We abstract God’s care for the universe because it is something which we are simply incapable of controlling, so we leave it to God. But those things that are near and dear to our hearts we have trouble letting go of and letting God take over; trusting Him to do what is best for us. And He will do what is best for us, answering our prayers in such a way as to fulfill His purposes in our lives:

 

Romans 8:28 28  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

I have lately learned that this does not necessarily mean that nothing will go wrong in our lives (I have never believed in the “health and wealth gospel”). It means that even those things that do go wrong from our merely human point of view will be used by God to draw us closer to Him, to a greater dependence on Him, to a greater need for Him.

 

Paul, the man who wrote the verse quoted above, is also the man who sang hymns of praise after being unjustly beaten and jailed:

 

Acts 16:22-24 22  And the crowd rose up against them. And tearing off their clothes, the magistrates ordered men to flog them. 23  And laying on them many stripes, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them securely, 24  who, receiving such a charge, threw them into the inner prison, and locked their feet in the stocks.

 

Paul is not alone in this attitude, the Bible is replete with believers who knew of God’s care for them in even the worst circumstances, people who could say even then “The will of God be done.” Many outside the Bible have this attitude as well, men like Horatio Spafford who could write “When Peace Like A River” shortly after his daughters died. Men and women who could say in the face of disaster or joy: "May the name of the Lord be praised!"

 

It has been a long road for me and I am not yet near its end but this I know more now than I did before – God cares. He loves me more than I could even dream. No matter what happens to me I know that He is God and His purpose is perfect even if it causes me pain...even if it causes me joy.