Tom Gilson

Does God Care? He Proved It!

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Does God Care?

I said the other day that God cares by giving us strength when we need it. Sometimes, though, I wonder why he has to do things the hard way.

I’ve been dealing with a foot injury for three-and-a-half years now. Through most of that time, except for the weeks immediately following my three surgeries, the expectation has been that I’ve been somewhere in the range of three to eight weeks from a near-complete recovery. So in addition to a sore foot, I’ve been dealing with the slow and repeated death of hope through most of these many months.

There are other events causing our family grief these days. Still it’s small compared to my Facebook friend I mentioned a couple of blog posts ago, whose condition has not only been chronically painful but life-threatening. It’s not going away for him, either. Apparently–though I pray he changes his mind–he’s taking God’s silence as an indicator of God’s absence.

This weekend I realized I needed to give up hope in my foot recovering under the current treatment plan. It’s been six months since I’ve seen any definite improvement, and it’s time at last to quit thinking the next few months will be any different. There are other treatment options, I suppose, and I’ll be asking the doctor about that when I seem him in a few weeks. Until then, and maybe for some time after, I’ll be limping, I’ll be limited in mobility, and I’ll probably have more nights of losing sleep from the pain.

God hasn’t answered my prayers for healing. Is he then silent? Is he absent? Today in my Bible-in-a-year reading I read Isaiah 53, which virtually all Christian commentators understand to be a prophecy of Christ and his crucifixion. It says in verse 5, “By his stripes [his wounds] we are healed.” I’m not experiencing the physical healing I want. Does that mean it’s a sham, a vapor, a lie?

It might–except for this one great thing: Good Friday happened. Jesus did die on the cross. He was (from the beginning of that same verse) “wounded for our transgressions… bruised for our iniquities… the chastisement for our peace was upon him.” He died for me, to give me healing first of all from our spiritual sickness, our separation from God, and the eternal death to which that disease would inevitably lead.

Then the great thing was followed by a greater thing: Easter happened. He rose from the grave. He conquered spiritual death, then he overcame physical death. This happened. If it hadn’t, then I would have to give up all hope; but it did.

No illness, no setback, no pain, can erase the fact that Jesus proved himself victor over all illness, pain, and loss. No life event can eliminate that one central life-giving event. No death, even, can take away the fact of resurrection. Indeed, when does God do his greatest work? His greatest work of all is resurrection, which can only come after a death. This is both literally and metaphorically true; and for that reason, the moment when hope seems most unlikely is when God’s greatest work is most likely to shine through.

It may take more than a moment, to be sure. Jesus’ body lay in the ground long enough to dash everyone’s hopes in him, leaving despair in its place. But he rose!

God works on a resurrection principle. He brings light out of darkness, joy out of grief, healing out of pain, and life out of death. He proved he cares, and no matter what else, I have good reason to trust that he’s there. He isn’t silent. And he isn’t absent. Does God care? Yes, and he proved it.

Series Navigation (Does God Care?):<<< Does God Care? Yes!Does God Care, Even When We’re Suffering? >>>
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6 thoughts on “Does God Care? He Proved It!

  1. I might argue as a species of natural theology the first proof that God cares about us comes from the fact He created us.

    Causing us to have being when we cannot create ourselves is in and of itself an infinitely generous act.

    Of course God doesn’t stop there…..

  2. Yes indeed, God does care. I always wondered how Jesus felt at that moment God turned from him on that cross because of the sin he carried. Yet God was there. God allowed his Son suffer all that for ME! Why, of course He cares!…regardless of how I feel at the moment.

    His ways are past finding out. His plans are perfect.

  3. I’m sorry for the issues you’re having to deal with – and happy you’re finding ways to cope. Chronic pain is a terrible thing…

    I do have one question though. If God gives Christians the strength they need to deal with the issues they face – do you also believe it’s your god who gives strength to atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Jains, etc. when they find the same strength to persevere?

  4. I think so, depending on what kind of strength they call upon. If it’s strength of character, then likely yes. If it’s magic or idolatry, then no to that degree, though there remains God’s providence and the fact that he is our creator and constant sustainer in a very deep sense that I won’t go into here. Between those two there’s a vast continuum of gray on which I cannot comment.

  5. There’s no Scriptural support for the notion that God does *not* both hear and attend to the prayers and/or interior groans of people both in or out of Covenant with Him.

    Also: Strength is as Ought or Love or Justice or any other contour of Man is – in that such terms – in referring to our Nature’s contours – do not refer to “said stuff” in different ways when it is found in Bob the Christian vs. when it is found in Mary the Buddhist. Because Man’s nature is a very specific something *period*.

    Those are two basic concepts which “broadly apply” to the question of God, Prayers, Pain, Man, and our (Man’s) Nature’s groaning.

    In fact, apparently all natures groan (whatever that means) – and apparently God redeems, restores, makes all things new.

  6. “Does God help, care for, the outsiders?”

    Of course. Yes. In Christ we find our proof of that offensive News.

    There are three reasons the question of the Non-Christian’s strength in relation to God, prayers, and so on, reveals an un-scriptural root within the very question itself:

    1) Christ and what that open door entails
    2) The fundamental shape of reality
    3) Scripture’s meta-narrative

    Leaving number one and number three alone, and having touched slightly on the second point already, a few more (basic, generalized) observations relative to the second point:

    There is no part of Creation untouched by Reality – by Actuality. Nothing escapes reality – or – nothing escapes the causal shape of reality – and in fact it would be impossible for such to actualize and there we begin to see the Non-Scriptural nature of the question about this or that Non-Christian’s unavoidable interface with Actuality – with Reality – with God.

    The Shape of Reality is what it is – or – the Grain of Actuality is what it is – and Man – whether he runs his hands against said grain or whether he runs his hands with said grain – is ipso facto interfacing with said grain. Whether he knows it or not.

    It is not at all obvious that in either Naturalism’s paradigm or in the Christian’s paradigm there is some X somewhere that is free of the fundamental bottom of reality. It is in this sense that nothing in reality can escape reality’s fundamental nature or shape – that “Metaphysical Shape” being for the Christian – say – God, or love, or Justice, or Mercy, or Delight, or The Good, or Personhood, or what have you. Divine simplicity – or the fundamental bottom of reality – awaits all vectors in that while we can run our hands against that grain – against the grain of reality – we will in doing so only generate painful splinters – as the grain of said Tree (God/Reality) does not bend merely because we run our hands against it. Therein our goals which run contrary to The Good – while achievable – are not and can never sum to The Good. They may sum to some lesser good – our own Self in its own Teleos. All the same reasoning applies just as fully should Man run his hands with said Grain. There is that fundamental shape of reality which out-distances the level or the layer that is the finite and mutable teleos – that being God, or Actuality, or Reality, or the Fundamental Bottom of Reality – and so on.

    The OT and the NT speaks the express language of the God Who brings all Nations, all Tongues, all Peoples into His prophetic claims and we find Him doing just that every step of the way, from Non-Hebrew prostitutes asking for help to Hebrew liars asking for help to Non-Hebrews asking for help to thieves asking for help to outsiders asking for help to Ethiopian travelers asking for help and to an entire species called Mankind, and so on.

    Even more emphatic – we find in Scripture the language of the God Who hears not only the groaning of Man’s Nature and reconciles such to Himself, but, also, apparently, the God Who hears the groaning of every bit of our own particular created order – the world and universe – and there too makes His claim of making all things new.

    To question the Christian God’s interfacing with either Man or Creation – both in their wholeness and in their brokenness, both in covenant and out of covenant, is to completely misunderstand three things. Firstly, that God in Christ makes a Covenant with Himself and is in Covenant with Himself where Man is concerned. His Goodness towards us does not depend on us agreeing with Him. He comes to us while we are yet in our darkness. Secondly, the metaphysical fact that nothing can escape the fundamental shape of reality. Thirdly, Scripture’s entire meta-narrative.

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