Tom Gilson

Does God Care? Yes!

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Does God Care?

I was going to follow up my post on Does God Care? yesterday, but at 3 am my chronically-injured left foot invented a creative new way to hurt, and I didn’t get any more sleep than night. Yesterday was a very tired day for me.

Still I made progress on a couple important projects, and I spent time with family members and a friend who’s going through struggles of his own. My friend’s perspective was telling: “These are first-world problems. I’m not in a refugee camp. There aren’t any bombs falling nearby. I know where my next meal is coming from.”

Ralph H. and Isaiah 40

He’s right, yet there’s another perspective that’s been even more helpful to me lately. It’s at the end of Isaiah 40, which may be my all-time favorite passage, not just in the Bible but in all of literature.

It reminds me of Ralph H, for one thing. This goes back decades. I was in my mid-20s, Ralph was in his 60s or 70s. He had been notorious as the town drunk, but before I was old enough to know him that way,  Jesus Christ had gotten hold of his life. I never knew him as anything but a pillar of the church, a man who loved Jesus with all his heart.

The effects of his drinking were apparent, though, in the cravat he always wore around his throat, to cover what I think must have been something like a permanent tracheotomy. He had had his larynx removed due to cancer. To speak, he used the technique of swallowing air and vocalizing as he released it in a controlled belch.

It sounds awful, and yet I’ll never forget the light in his eyes the night I gave an evening sermon on Isaiah 40. He came up to me afterward and told me in his very halting, guttural way, “Life began … for me … at forty … too.” I wondered, Is he telling me that he was forty years old when he turned to Christ? But he went on to say, “It was reading … Isaiah 40 … that led me to … turn my life … to Jesus Christ.”

When he passed away several years later, the church couldn’t begin to hold all the people who came for his memorial service—people whose lives he had touched after turning his life over to Christ.

Comfort and Strength In the Knowledge of God

So I have good memories associated with this chapter, but I’m sure it would have been a favorite even without that. It begins in comfort, proceeds through a series of strong reminders of who God is, and ends with strength.

The other day I reached it in my Bible-in-a-year plan, and I had one of those enlightening experiences of discovering something new in the Bible, that had really been there all along. You may remember the question I raised a few days ago—the question I’ve been battling with in the Psalms and in prayer: is God really there for me? Is he really going to come through?

This is what I discovered at the end of the fortieth chapter of Isaiah. First, there’s the question:

Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
And my just claim is passed over by my God”?

That was exactly what I’d been asking. Is God paying attention? Is he really doing what’s right for me? When will he start making things go better for me again? When will things get easier?

I kept reading.

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

The Real Promise God Makes

The promise there, I suddenly realized, isn’t rest. It’s strength, specifically the strength to continue, to endure.

I thought about the things I wrote about last time, and I said to myself, You know, based on what researchers say about stress and its effects, I should almost be in the hospital right now, but I’m making it. I’m tired sometimes, but I’m pressing on with real joy. [That’s a biblical word that’s becoming almost archaic now, but it’s the right one here.] I’m smiling (most of the time) and I’m filled with hope for good things to come. That’s exactly what God said in this passage he would do for me.

God isn’t passing over my just claim. My ways aren’t hidden from him. He is not hiding. He may not be giving me rest from the challenges, but he’s certainly giving me strength to make it through.

Does God care? Yes! He’s demonstrating his goodness, not by making my life easier, but by making me better: stronger, more patient, more empathetic and compassionate.

There are New Testament implications to this that my friend brought up yesterday, from Romans 5 through Romans 8:28, and in the first chapter of 2 Corinthians. There’s also a promise of rest in the Bible, but it’s a different promise in a different context. I’ll share more on that soon.

Series Navigation (Does God Care?):<<< Does God Care?Does God Care? He Proved It! >>>
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5 thoughts on “Does God Care? Yes!

  1. God not only cares, but He cares to degrees and distances which we cannot wrap our minds around. The highest claim upon Man is found here: “In His Image“. As the Image of God is written into Man, as His timeless Self-Sacrifice amid Self/Other motioning ceaselessly within Trinity tirelessly radiates – and descends – as those and the many other contours of Imago Dei revealed fully in Christ are issued by the God Who cares to the world He loves, as He wills to us His Own Image – as such is etched within Man, upon Man, Man cannot help but find contours of Joy. The paradigmatic Start/Stop points we find in the Christian claims upon Man are utterly unique, brutally and painfully honest, unavoidably hopeful, and ultimately loving as such foci are unparalleled by all other paradigmatic claims on Man. The question, “Does God Care?” finds – in Christ – reality’s unavoidable “Absolutely” as Christ alone at once solidifies that very subtext beneath our feet even as He engraves that very context above our heads in the Face of the God Who intones His relentless love for each of us.

  2. Yes is the answer! Check out the website for the reasons why. In the final answer, if God the Father did not care, He would not have sent His son Jesus to die for us. Christ’s pain would also have greatly impacted God the Father. Jesus and the Father are also one and feel empathy for each other. Jesus suffered, in obedience to the Father’s will (thy will not mine spoken in the garden) to accomplish salvation for all who would follow Him. See especially, the parable of the fig tree lesson in for some eye openers.
    Have a great day with God.

  3. 32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

  4. Thanks for the correction. When first published, the lesson represented a parable to me, but others might be confused with the bible’s different lesson which you gave. The Website has been changed to more accurately reflect the topic “Why did Christ kill the fig tree or the amazing faith of Christ.”

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