By BARBARA MARTIN
Is God really watching us?
QUESTION: Is God really looking over us every day, or are we on our own?
The Heidelberg Catechism asks this question in describing the ongoing providence of God:”What does it benefit us to know that God has created all things and still upholds them by His providence?” The answer: “We can be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and with a view to the future we can have a firm confidence in our faithful God and Father that no creature shall separate us from His love: For all creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so much as move.”
Jesus said in Matthew 10:30 that even the hairs of our head are numbered.
I recently had surgery. I am usually pretty pain tolerant, but this recuperation has been tough. Throughout my first week home, there were times that all I could do was literally cry out for Jesus to have mercy on me. Was the pain still present? Yes. But the fact that He was present with me in my pain was a precious gift. During this recuperation, the thought that I was alone and on my own would have been unbearable.
I think a truth that is becoming more and more precious to me is the fact that in all of life’s surprises and suffering, God has a special care for us. Because God is powerful and present and for us, His children, we can be grateful when things go well, patient when things go poorly and enjoy freedom from worry about the future. God’s power is not exercised on a whim but always as an expression of love for His people.
At some point, the circumstances of life will feel overwhelming. Jesus will let things happen that we don’t understand. He will do things that don’t fit our plans or even make sense to us. But, here is the truth: If Jesus is God and He values us more than many sparrows, then He’s got to be great enough to have some reason to let us go through things we don’t understand. Elisabeth Elliott expressed this in two simple sentences: “God is God, and since He is God, He is worthy of my worship and service. I will find rest nowhere else but in His will, and that will is necessarily infinitely, immeasurable, unspeakable beyond my largest notion of what He is up to.”
The only place you are safe is in the will of God. As redeemed children, there is nothing that can ever separate us from Him, as Romans 8:38-39 says: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We can and must intentionally hold to His promises and put them on repeat for our souls.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:1b-3)
We are not on our own, ever!
There is a hymn that I love called “Does Jesus Care?”
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press,
And the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades
Into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?
O yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
The long night dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
As I write this, I am at the three-week mark of a six-week recovery. I am blind at this point as to what the sixth week will bring. This is not a comfortable place for me, but here is what I know: God has created all things and is upholding even the outcome of this surgery through His ongoing providence. He is present in all of life.
Barbara Martin, LPC, LMFT, clinical coordinator of the Counseling Center at Reformed Theological Seminary, has her own private practice at RTS.