Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Does God Care?

Sometimes I find something while reading one of our fiction books that strikes me in a really profound way. It was particularly timely that last Sunday in class we were discussing the age old question of why God allows suffering. Then I was doing a final review of Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy and came across this scene between a homeless boy and his new adoptive father:

“Why do you suppose God lets children live on the streets? Cold, hungry, hurt?”

Grant sighed. The exact question he had been wrestling with for years. He knew the truth. It just wasn’t easy to accept. “I think, Charlie, that God doesn’t really care that much about our bodies.”

“What?” Charlie seemed upset.

Grant tried to explain himself. “Oh, He does care. He loves everyone of us so much. He knows the numbers of hairs on our heads. But I think God sees inside us, and what’s in there is more important than food or clothes or good health. God cares about souls. He cares about us, one soul at a time. If a child dies, cold on the street, but he knows the Lord, then there is rejoicing in heaven. And a lot of street kids do have a beautiful, childlike faith in God.”

“A lot don’t.”

“A lot of warm, well-fed people don’t, either. God loves people one soul at a time."

I was like Charlie and a bit put off by Grant's statement that God doesn't care about our bodies. I had to read it again, and then it sunk in that it's true. We get so wrapped up with what is temporal, the things we can see, touch, feel, that we forget all that is really important in God's eyes -- SOULS.

The Bible tells us many places, especially in the Psalms, that God sees our sufferings and feels our pain. We know Jesus healed body issues and handed out some meals, but he didn't build homeless shelters or orphanages. He didn't grant wealth to permanently meet people's physical needs. But He did distribute living water and baptize followers into His kingdom in which lies the permanent joys and comforts this world can never give us.

Yes, we should do all we can to help relieve suffering and pain around us in this world, but these things always have been and always will be a problem (Mark 14:7). Instead of just handing everyone a cup of cold water, which they will need again tomorrow, we should be making sure everyone has a cup of living water, which is good for eternity.

This Thanksgiving, do be grateful for the physical needs the Lord has provided in food, shelter, clothing, health, and more, but don't forget the most valuable thing to thank Him for -- our salvation.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving celebration. May our gratefulness extend throughout the year into everything we say and do.

Gingham Mountain, the third and final book in Mary Connealy's Lassoed in Texas series, will release in February 2009. Despite the above quote, it is actually a romantic comedy in a historical setting. Don't let Mary's quirky, comedic style fool you, though. She really does have a lot of godly wisdom to impart.


Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Becky,
These are very thought provoking comments. I believe God is concerned for both physical needs and spiritual needs. One of the most effective ways to reach people is through meeting physical needs, then hearts are often open to consider their spiritual needs.

I thinks this is what Jesus models when he fed the crowds who were hungry and following Him to hear what He was teaching. This is also often the strategy of missionaries who serve the poor around the world. Helping the total person, modeling the love of Christ.

Happy Thanksgiving!

JoAnne said...

What a great post. Thanks Becky and Mary! I struggle with this, too, sometimes--why God doesn't intervene immediately when helpless people are hurting, abused, etc. This puts a good perspective on it. And knowing that all things will be made right when He returns gives me hope and peace about it all.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Mary Connealy said...

Hey, Becky, you used me as a good example. :) Thank you

I am so much more used ot being used as a horrible warning.....

.....mainly by my children.....

I enjoyed the change.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

wendy said...

Wonderful post Becky - this really made me think!
And Mom - that is so not true!!!
P.S. I can't believe that you have access to a copy of my her book before me!

Ruth and Lacey said...

Becky, what a good example of looking beneath the surface.

And using Mary as a good example?
Stroke of genius. I mean who in their right mind would have thought of such a thing???


Have a great Thanksgiving, ladies!


Audra Harders said...

Wonderful, thought-filled post, Becky. More often than not, we're concerned with the temporal rather than the eternal, aren't we? Hard to break that humanly habit.

I'm thankful God loves me inside and out. And I'm thankful He never stops reminding me of what is most important : )

Thanks for the timely message!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

What an inspiring post. I was looking forward to GM before now, but after reading this, I'm even more anxious to read it.

It sounds like it'd be a great gift to give to people who shy away from God or stand on the fringes of Christianity due to this issue (of why God allows suffering) alone.

Thanks, Mary for helping so many people to see parts of His heart. I love when I can see fruits of an author's deep relationship with God coming through the pages without the fiction feeling agenda-driven.

Kudos to Barbour for snatching up this wonderfully funny and profoundly insightful author.

Cheryl Wyatt

Mary Connealy said...

I re-read this today and wanted to add something to it.

This is actually a very closely, firmly held belief of mine.
I think of the story of the paralyzed man who was lowered down through the ceiling in front of Jesus to be healed. Jesus looked at the man and said, "Your sins are forgiven."

Then, when the man's friends protest that that's not what they came for, they came for healing, Jesus says, (paraphrasing) "Oh, okay, get up and walk."

We know Jesus does this to make a point about what's really important, forgiveness, but I read it with a second much of the Bible is layered like that, to have many, deeper meanings.

I think Jesus really did see that man and respond to what he saw, a SOUL in need of forgiveness. And a man who believed and wanted that forgiveness.
Jesus saw that first, responded to that first. He performed the greatest miracle FIRST.

The second miracle, healing, was an act of compassion, but not nearly as important to Jesus' way of thinking.

Every time you read about a miracle in the Bible, that's the time to listen VERY CLOSELY to what Jesus SAYS. He performs the miracle out of His compassionate heart, but the miracle isn't what's important. He does it to get everybody's attention, and to prove He has the RIGHT to His authority. Then once the crowd is riveted on Him, He says something of fundamental importance.

Becky said...

Thanks again, Mary. Hope everyone had a great day of Thanksgiving. We are actually having our big meal today.