The following is from The Book of Comfort by James Russell Miller.
Does God Care?
About the beginning of this twentieth century an unbeliever was reported to have said that the mission of the century would be to discover God, and when God should be discovered, it would be found that he does not care. It would be a bitter sorrow for the world if this prophecy were to come true. Into countless homes and hearts it would bring the darkness of despair.
The secret of hope in believing souls everywhere is that God does care. This is the one great truth that God has been striving through all the generations to have men believe. This is the whole gospel of redemption. The Bible presents it on its every page. It is the message that Christ came into the world to declare — that God loves all men, every man. The world’s condemning unbelief has always been its refusal to believe that God cares.
But does God really care? Is there anywhere an ear that hears the world’s cries of pain and gives attention to them? Is there anywhere a heart that is touched by the world’s sorrows, that feels with those who suffer, and that desires to give help and comfort, care? The veriest stranger when he is passing along the street and sees one suffering, in pain or distress, cares, pities him? A tender-hearted man feels even with a beast, or a bird that has been hurt. Some great calamity occurs, — the destruction of a city by an earthquake, a volcanic eruption pouring its lava streams over homes and villages, an explosion in a colliery, burying hundreds of miners, and a wave of pain sweeps over the world. Human hearts are sensitive to every shade of need and experience in others. When we see crape on a door, telling us that there is death within, that a family is mourning, though they be utter strangers to us, our hearts are touched, we walk softly, laughter is hushed, loud speech is restrained, we speak more quietly. We care. Is God less compassionate than men are?
Some one tells us that God’s care is general, not individual. All things in creation and providence are planned for the good of the race. The movements of the earth are so guided as to bring day and night, the seasons in their order, cold and heat, winds and tides and all the changes which bring health, comfort and fruitfulness. God is good to all.
“He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.” Nature is ready with gentle service in all its attributes and forces. But it is the same to all. There is no love in all this, no care for any individual, no discrimination. The providence of God is kindly, benevolent, helpful, but is no more so to the weak than to the strong, to the sick than to the well, to the distressed and broken-hearted than to the happy and rejoicing. There seems to be no special divine tenderness shown among the homes of a town to a home where there is suffering, or where there is great need or bitter sorrow.
Life appears no more kindly to the blind man, to the cripple, to the helpless, to the bedridden, than to those who have the use of all their powers and faculties and are well and strong.
Is there ever in God any discrimination? Does he care for us as we care for each other? Does he give personal thought to any of us, — to you, to me, — according to our condition? Does pain or trouble in us cause pity in his heart? Does God care? Does he see the individual in the crowd? When you are passing through some great trouble, enduring pain or adversity, does God know it and does he care? Does he have any thought or feeling for you different from that which he has for the person living in the house next to yours who has no trouble, no suffering?
We know how it is with our human friends. Love discriminates. Its interest in us is sympathetic and varies with our condition and our need. When we are happy, without painful condition, our friends love us, but feel no anxiety concerning us. Tomorrow we are sick or are suffering from some painful accident, or enduring some loss. Then they love us no more than before, but their hearts are rent with sympathy. That is what it means to care.
Is there any such experience as this in God? When we suffer does he suffer too.? Does he know that we are in any particular need, and is his feeling toward us affected by our experience? A mother was speaking to a trusted friend about her daughter. The child had had a bitter sorrow, a sore disappointment. She had not spoken of it to her mother, but was enduring it herself, bravely and quietly, trying to be strong and cheerful. Yet the mother knew just what her daughter was passing through. Her love for her child entered into and shared all the child’s experiences. The mother cared.
Is there ever anything like this in the heart of God as he looks upon his children and knows that they are suffering? In one of the Psalms the poet says: “I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me.” There was wonderful comfort in this assurance. For a man, one man, in the great world of millions, — poor, needy, surrounded by enemies and dangers, and with no human friend or helper, to be able to say: “Yet the Lord thinketh upon me,” was to find marvelous strength. But was the needy and beleaguered soul justified in its confidence? Was it indeed true that the great God in heaven thought upon his servant on the earth in his loneliness and suffering? Or was it only a fancied assurance, with which to comfort himself? Did God really care for him? And does God care for us and think upon us when we are poor and needy?
When we turn to the Bible we find on every page the revelation that God does care. The Old Testament is full of luminous illustrations of the truth. A great crime has been committed, a brother slain by a brother, and God cares. A woman is in distress because she has been cast out; heaven cares. “The Lord hath heard thy affliction,” was the message sent to comfort her. All the Bible story shines with records of like divine care. The Psalms likewise are full of assurances of God’s personal interest in men. Christ teaches the same truth. He speaks over and over of the Father’s thought and care. He told his disciples that God clothes the grass-blades and the lilies, amid all his care of the worlds finds time to attend to the feeding of the birds, and in all the events of the universe notes the fall of a little sparrow. He assured them further that the very hairs of their heads are all numbered, meaning that God personally cares for all the minutest affairs of our lives.
Not only did Christ teach that God cares for his children, but that he cares for them as individuals. His love is not merely a diffused kindly sentiment of interest in the whole human family, but it is personal and individual as the love of a mother for each one of her children. The Shepherd calleth his sheep by name. St. Paul took the love of Christ to himself as if he were the only one Christ loved. “He loved me and gave himself up for me.”
God’s love is personal. His heart lays hold upon each life. He cares for us, for me. He enters into all our individual experiences. If we suffer, he suffers. In a remarkable passage in the Old Testament, the writer, speaking of the love of God for his people, says: “In all their affliction he was afflicted and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” How could the care of God for his children be expressed in plainer or more positive way? In their afflictions he was afflicted. When they suffered he suffered. In their sorrows he sorrowed. We know how Jesus entered into all the experiences of his disciples. Their life was his. It is the same today. In heaven he is touched with the feeling of his people’s infirmities. If you are weak, the burden of your weakness presses upon him. If you are hurt, the hurt is felt by him. If you are wronged he endures the wrong. There is no experience of your life that he does not share. Whatever your need, your trial, your perplexity, your struggle may be, you may be sure that he knows and cares and that when you come to him with it, he will take time amid all his infinite affairs to help you as if he had nothing else in all the world to do.
|“Among so many, can he care?|
|Can special love be everywhere?”|
|I asked. My soul bethought itself of this, —|
|“In just that very place of his|
|Where he hath put and keepeth you,|
|God hath no other thing to do.”|
God cares. His love for each one of us is so deep, so personal, so tender, that he shares our every pain, every distress, every struggle. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” God is our Father and his care is gentler than a human father’s as his love exceeds human love. Much human care has no power to help, but when God cares he helps omnipotently. Jesus said that when his friends would leave him alone, yet he would not be alone — “because the Father is with me.” When human friendship comes not with any relief, then God will come. When no one in all the world cares, then God cares.
Miller, James Russell. The Book of Comfort. 1912. “Does God Care?”
|In the bitter waves of woe,|
|Beaten and tossed about|
|By the sullen winds that blow|
|From the desolate shores of doubt|
|Where the anchors that faith has cast|
|Are dragging in the gale,|
|I am quietly holding fast|
|To the things that cannot fail.|
|And fierce though the fiends may fight.|
|And long though the angels hide,|
|I know that truth and right|
|Have the universe on their side;|
|And that somewhere beyond the stars|
|Is a love that is better than fate.|
|When the night unlocks her bars|
|I shall see Him — and I will wait.|
|– Washington Gladden.|