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.