Is There a God Who Cares About Me?
February 15th, 1981 @ 10:50 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-15-81 10:50 a.m.
This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. The message is entitled Is There a God Who Cares About Me? In the long series on the “Great Doctrines of the Bible,” we are in the section on theology: the doctrine of God, and the title of the message: Is There A God Who Cares About Me? Does He know my name? Does He know that I exist? Does He know anything about me? Is there a God who watches over me, who knows me, who cares anything about me? In our Bible, in the Book of Psalms, the forty-second, the forty-second Psalm:
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God…
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
Not only these adversaries, but it seems that all of the things that we know and see in life disprove any interest of any higher omnipotence in us and our welfare. As one scientist said, “We are alone in the universe. We are orphans.” Another scientist said, “The silence of infinitude terrifies me.” Is there anything beyond? Is there anyone beside our life, and in a life to come, who has any regard for us? Everything, practically, that we know argues for our inconsequential insignificance. The astronomers, in describing the vast infinitude of creation, refer to our whole world as a little small speck in the great, vast spectrum of God’s creation.
And on this earth, seemingly, the mountains raise their heads in helplessness, the deep valleys are depressions of hopelessness. The very oceans are oceans and seas of blood, of murder, and violence, and war. And the rivers of the earth are streams of tears pouring forth from the broken-heartedness of humanity. And in our own life, and in our own world on the planet in which we live, we seem to be like autumnal leaves, falling by the immeasurable, uncounted millions to the ground; there to perish with all the other leaves that fall by our side. This earth is nothing other than one vast illimitable cemetery in which we bury our dead.
In reading this week, I saw a picture in a magazine of a vast ocean, moved by some terrific wind. And up above the caption: “Who cares for me?” And the caption beneath: “Nobody cares about me; I feel like a tiny, insignificant speck trapped in the turbulence of humanity, tossed back and forth by forces beyond my control.”
In one of my pastorates, a funeral director asked me to conduct the service for a man. When I went to the funeral home, there was nobody there. He said, “Would you get at least one somebody, so that he can be a witness if ever I was questioned that the man had a decent Christian burial, I could answer, ‘Yes’.” I went out on the streets, I found a hamburger joint, and I asked the man if he would come and be with me in the service. So I conducted the service with that one hamburger-man there seated, sharing the hour. What was the name of that man I buried? Does God know him? Was it any matter to the Lord? Where is his grave? And can God distinguish the dust of that fallen humanity from the rest of the dust of the ground?
Is there a God who cares about me? Does He know me? Does He know my name? A post-graduate student in Tokyo University went to Niko. Some of you have been there; it’s a city of shrines. He went to Niko and failing to find God there, he went to the mountains to a great waterfall, and he wrote this note, “I have gone through the difficult task of education seeking for God, but I failed. I came to Niko and continued that search to find God, and there I failed. I am now going into the other world to see if I can find God there.” And the article said that he leaped into the mad, swirling rapids and plunged over the precipice to his death. And there followed him, in the immediate years, two hundred eighty-six other students until the government took measures to prevent the awful succession of suicides.
Where is God? Where do I find God? And is there a God who cares about me? Finally, ultimately, all of us come to that deep, indescribable longing and hungering and yearning: where is God? Youth and beauty soon fade away. The reason they gave for the suicide of Marilyn Monroe was she saw, as the days went by, that her beauty was departing. And rather than face the inevitable, she took her own life.
There is in Dallas a wealthy man; a man of tremendous executive ability and success, but he is getting older. And his money cannot buy health, and his money cannot buy length of days. And as he is facing an ultimate darkness, he is beginning to ask, “Where is God?” Finally all of us are brought to that yearning hunger, “Is there a God who cares about me? I want God.”
A father stood by the open grave and there were three little children not aware of what was happening, clutching at his garments. And that father watched his wife lowered into that grave below. And when they went home, the three little children went through the house saying, “Where are you Mommy? Mommy, where are you?” And the father gathered the three and said, “I will be your mother.” And the three children burst out, “We want Mommy!” When time came to put them to bed, he went next door to a sweet, neighborly mother and asked her to come and put the children to bed. She hugged them and kissed them and tucked them in and said, “I will be your mother.” But all three cried, “We want Mommy!” And they cried themselves to sleep wanting “Mommy.” We are children just like that.
When youth is gone, when life is gone, when money cannot buy aught else and we face an ultimate and inevitable tomorrow, who is out there? And does He know me? And is He my friend, and does He care about me? Seeking God! That cry for God is in our deepest soul. What is your soul? You can’t define it. You can’t look at it. You can’t see it. But whatever “soul” is, it has in it that yearning and seeking after God, “Where can I find God?”
In these stories of the human race, they have looked at the sun and said, “Are you God?” And some have worshiped the sun. They have looked at the moon and said, “Are you God?” And they worshiped the moon. They’ve looked at the stars and said, “Are you God?” And they worshiped the stars. Some of them have—scientifically-minded—have looked at these unseen laws that govern all creation, and they ask, “Are you God, a first primal cause?” Others have looked at the mythological characters and have worshiped them on Mt. Jupiter, “Are you God?” Others in history have sought some incarnation in a Buddha, or in a Zoroaster, or in a Krishna, “Are you God?”
Our souls ask, “Where is God?” And our own hearts, our own inner life, our deepest spirit; we are conscious of Him. And where did He come from, and how is it that He speaks to us in our deepest self? I ask my ear, “Did God come in through you?” And my ear says, “All I can do is just hear sound.” I ask my eye, “Did God come in through you?” And my eye replies, “All I can see is light and color and lines.” I ask my fingers, “Did God brush by you?” And my fingers replied, “All I can do is sense tangible reality.”
Then how did God get in my heart? How is it that He moves in my spirit? How is it that He makes me want to find Him? It must be that there is a God who cares about me. It must be that God reaches down and touches us in our inmost soul; that He knocks at the door of my heart, seeking my love, and adoration, and worship, and commitment of life. Is there a God who cares about me?
In the marvelous self-revelation of the Lord to us; our Lord has revealed Himself to us in a personal name—a personal name that describes His loving, and tender, and merciful care—God is somebody. He is not an “it.” God is not the pervasive, impersonal, cosmic forces of the earth. God is not these unseen laws that govern the universe. God is somebody; He is a person, He lives. He is not law; He is life. God is somebody!
The effort to depersonalize God is to take away from Him any thought of His being understanding, or sympathetic, or loving, or forgiving. When we depersonalize God, we take away the rose and leave the thorns. When we depersonalize God, we take the sun out of the sky and leave nothing but abysmal, midnight darkness. God is somebody. And He refers to Himself thousands of times as “I,” and “Me,” and “Mine.” And He reveals Himself as a person.
Enoch walked with cosmic law; Enoch walked with the great pervasive forces of the universe? “Enoch walked with God” [Genesis 5:24]. When Hagar, sent away from the home in Beersheba [Genesis 21:9-14], out in the desert wandering with her child Ishmael, put him aside that she might not watch him die. And the Angel of God came and brought her to a fountain [Genesis 21:15-19]. And in her praise she said, “Thou Lord seest me” [Genesis 16:13]. God is somebody. God lives; God talks; God speaks; God sees. And He reveals Himself in that personal way. His very name signifies His care for us.
On the back side of the desert, in a burning bush [Exodus 3:1-3], the Lord God spoke to Moses and said, “Moses, I have seen the affliction of My people. And I have heard their cry. Come now and I will send you to deliver My people out of bondage” [Exodus 3:7-10]. And Moses said, “Lord, when I come before the people and tell them You have sent me and they ask me what is Your name? What shall I say?” [Exodus 3:13]. And the Lord God said, “My name is—tell them, My name is.” And you have the name of God that for thousands of years, its pronunciation has been lost. For thousands of years, the Hebrew people in such awe before Him, never spoke it. They used some other word like Adonai or El Shaddai, “Lord,” but never the name of God.
The pronunciation has been lost. What we have done in the Bible is, we have taken the four consonants of the name of God and we have added to them the vowel pointing of adonai, Lord. And when you do it, it comes out Jehovah. Maybe the best pronunciation of it as nearly as we could ever know would be Yahweh, translated in the King James version of the Bible, it is, “You go tell them My name is Yahweh, Jehovah, I Am That I Am” [Exodus 3:14].
But the grammarians say to us that it would be a better translation to say, “Tell My name is I will be what I will be, Jehovah, Yahweh.” That is, “When you go before My people in Israel and they ask you what is My name, you tell them My name is ‘I will be your deliverer.’ You tell them I will be your guide—a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day [Exodus 13:21]. You tell them I will be your Shepherd.”
And through all of the years He loved and cherished and guided His people. I don’t think there’s anything more contrastingly meaningful in the entire Word of God than a verse that Isaiah places in the midst of the description of the infinitude of the Almighty. He says, “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket or counted as a small dust of the balance. He diggeth up the isles of the sea as a little thing. The nations before Him are as nothing . . . To whom will you liken God?” [Isaiah 40:15, 17-18]. And in the midst of that marvelous description of the omnipotence of the Almighty he says, listen, “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young [Isaiah 40:11].
The great, mighty Creator of the world that fadeth not, it is that great mighty God who feeds His flock like a shepherd; gathers His lambs in His arms, carries them in His bosom, gently leads those that are with young. That is His name: His name is, “I will be your deliverer, your guide, your Savior, your shepherd, your keeper, your companion through all of the years of your pilgrim way.” The whole revelation of God in the Old Covenant is just like that.
Isaiah was sent by the Lord God back to Hezekiah to whom he had just given the prophecy from the Lord that Hezekiah was to set his house in order because he was to die and not live [Isaiah 38:1]. And Hezekiah prayed and wept before the Lord, and God turned Isaiah around and sent him back to the palace and announced to the king, “Thus saith the Lord, I have seen you tears, I have heard your prayers: I have added to your life fifteen years” [Isaiah 38:2-5]. That is God!
His name is Jehovah. His name is Yahweh. His name means, “I will be that I will be.” There is no end to His bounty. There is no end to His mercy and love. It expands with every generation and every age. “Tell them My name is Yahweh, I will be that I will be [Exodus 3:14]. I will be your”…amazing mystery. “I will be one of you. I will be made in fashion as a man. I will assume upon Myself all of the vicissitudes and fortunes and providences of life. I will live and walk among you. That is My name. I will be your Savior and companion and friend. I will live your life.” No wonder that Paul exclaimed the great mystery of godliness that God was manifest in the flesh; [1 Timothy 3:16] that God would be a man; that God would live our life.
The gospel begins with just that. When Joseph was minded to put away Mary because she was with child [Matthew 1:19], the angel appeared to him and said, “That which is born in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bring forth a Son, and you are to call His name, Iēsous, Joshua, Savior, for He will save His people from their sins” [Matthew 1:20, 21]. All of this came to pass according to Matthew, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and they shall call His name Immanuel, with us is God, Immanuel, God with us” [Matthew 1:22-23, Isaiah 7:14].
It was no less in the beautiful announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary in Nazareth, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you, wherefore also that holy thing that shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God” [Luke 1:35]. And the great doctrinal treatises in the epistles are just like that: Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3, “He is the express image of the invisible God.” And as the Lord said to Philip, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” [John 14:9]. This is God!
What is God like? And does He care for me? This is God clothed in human flesh and what kind of a person is He? In describing the Lord Jesus, the Gospel writers will say, “And when Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion upon them” [Matthew 9:36]. “Jesus moved with compassion” is His ever-enduring name forever.
Jesus; how He taught us! He said, “Even the hairs of our heads are numbered” [Matthew 10:30]. Not only knows our names [John 10:3]; knows more about us than we know ourselves. He taught us saying, “There is no sparrow that falls to the ground but that our heavenly Father followed his flight to the earth” [Matthew 10:29]. He taught us about the one lost sheep [Luke 15:3-7], and the one lost coin [Luke 15:8-10], and the one lost boy [Luke 15:11-32]—and then He added, “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” [Luke 19:10].
What is God like? What is Jesus like? Watch Him ministering. Sensitive? Throng on every side; He turned and said, “Somebody touched Me.” A woman with an issue of blood had said in her heart, “If I but touch the hem of His garment I will be healed” [Matthew 9:20-21; Mark 5:27-32; Luke 8:43-47].
“Somebody touched Me”; sensitive; God caring for us. His preaching from village to village; from house to house, ministering to the people, healing their illnesses, opening their eyes, cleansing the lepers, preaching to the poor [Matthew 11:5]: the beautiful mission work and ministering work of our wonderful Lord; loving us; weeping at the tomb of Lazarus [John 11:35]; weeping over the lost city of Jerusalem [Luke 19:41]; weeping for our sins in Gethsemane; dying for us [Matthew 27:32-50]; those agonies of travail in spirit and soul into which we cannot enter as He became sin for us [2 Corinthians 5:21], this He did for us; the God who cares about us. And finally, according to the author of the Book of Hebrews, “In heaven now at the right hand of the Majesty on High [Hebrews 1:3]; in heaven a faithful High Priest and Intercessor who is moved, touched, by the feelings of our infirmities” [Hebrews 4:14-15]. Nobody poor and He wasn’t poor; nobody hungry and He wasn’t hungry; nobody suffered and He didn’t suffer; nobody hurt and He didn’t hurt; nobody cries and He didn’t cry; nobody disappointed and He wasn’t disappointed; nobody in agony and He wasn’t in agony; our great merciful High Priest who with the feeling for our infirmities, “Wherefore,” the Book of Hebrews says, “come boldly, come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may find help in time of need” [Hebrews 4:16]/
The great God who cares for us: His name, Yahweh, Jehovah. In the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of John, John says that when Isaiah saw the Lord Jehovah high and lifted up, John says he saw Jesus: Jehovah, Yahweh [John 12:41; Isaiah 6:1], His name in the old covenant. “I have heard the cry of My people. I have seen their affliction” [Exodus 3:7], Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Lord Jesus of the New Testament; moved with compassion [Matthew 9:36], touched with the feeling of our infirmities [Hebrews 4:15].
There is no doubt but that sin has in it a judgment. But, it is God who shows Himself toward us, not bitter but always compassionate and merciful. He is a great forgiving God. That is His name, Yahweh, “I will be that I will be [Exodus 3:14]. I will be with you through all of the age.” How true that is for those who will open their hearts to the Lord. He is just there, always just there. “I will be with you to the end of the age” [Matthew 28:20]. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” [Hebrews 13:5]. He is with us.
God poured out the Spirit without measure upon the earth [John 3:34]; and that Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus. And when I have the Spirit of Jesus, I have the Lord Jesus Himself—God Himself—and the Spirit of our Lord was poured out upon the earth without measure. And the Spirit of our Lord is always one of seeking, always one of inviting.
It is as God was in the garden of Eden, seeking the pair, the first parents, Adam and Eve, whom He had made [Genesis 1:27], who had hid themselves from God [Genesis 3:8-10]. As though God were vicious and judgmental, they hid from Him. But God sought them.
And in a world of sin, and judgment, and darkness, God moves. He moves in our nations; He moves in our great cities; He moves among our people. God is seeking, always caring for us as He was in the garden of Eden; as He was caring in the days of the Deluge in the days of Noah; as He did in the days of Abraham; as He did in the days of Moses. Through all of the centuries God moves; seeking, searching, caring for His people. And in that search, it is always inclusive, never exclusive. Rahab the harlot is in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus; Ruth a Moabitess is in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus [Matthew 1:5]. God sent Jonah to Nineveh. Nineveh was an ogre to the Jew. Nineveh had destroyed Northern Israel. Nineveh had shut up Jerusalem like a vise. The ruthless and bitter and hasty Assyrian was a nightmare to the Jew [Habakkuk 1:6-7], but God said to Jonah, “Go preach to them” [Jonah 3:1-2]. And when Jonah preached finally, he did it with a vengeance, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed” [Jonah 3:4]. Hallelujah! They deserve the damnation of God. But the king and his noblemen, and the people bowed before the Lord in sackcloth and in ashes. And God spared them. God saved them [Jonah 3:5-10]. And Jonah was, he was disappointed that a fire did not fall; that they were not burned up. And Jonah said to God, “Is that not what I said to You, that You are a God, longsuffering, and merciful, and kind, and forgiving?” [Jonah 4:1-2].
I try to remember that when I look at the flotsam and the jetsam of humanity. This scum-of-the-earth; this filthy, dirty, slimy creature; “He needs the electric chair. He ought to be hanged. This one ought to be quartered.” Then I remember, “This is a man for whom Christ died” [John 3:16-17; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2]. It is always inclusive, never exclusive.
The love of God is greater than the measure of man’s mind.
And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
[from “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy,” Frederick W. Faber]
There is a God who cares about us. “I will be that I will be; I will be with you” [Exodus 3:14]. If you are in the fiery furnace, He was there [Daniel 3:20-25]. When Stephen was stoned, He was there [Acts 7:55-56, 59-60]. When Saul was tossed in the awful tempest at sea [Acts 27:14-21], the Lord stood by him that night [Acts 27:22-23]. When John was exiled on the isle of Patmos, Jesus was there [Revelation 1:9-18]. And He is with us! [Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5].
Why doesn’t God destroy Satan? Why doesn’t God forever put sin out of this world? Why is it that we live in such tribulation and trial? Why? What is the mystery of iniquity? [2 Thessalonians 2:7]. God purposes some better thing for us [Hebrews 11:40]. It is a secret God keeps in His heart that we don’t understand now, but this is a part of His elective goodness for us—the fire through which we go, the trials that we experience.
One of the great doctrines you find in the Book of Hebrews is this: that Jesus, though He was the Son, was made perfect through suffering. “And He, though He were a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things that He suffered” [Hebrews 5:8-9]. He became our complete, and able, and mighty deliverer, and Savior, and sympathetic High Priest because He suffered [Hebrews 4:14-16].
There is some reason why God leads us through these trials. There is an elective purpose in it all, and it is for our blessing; it is for our good. And if you have a trial; if you have a burden; if you have a frustration; if you have a disappointment and a despair; if you have a hurt, God means in it some good thing for you. “In all things, God works together for good to them that love the Lord” [Romans 8:28].
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
[from ”How Firm A Foundation,” John Rippon]
The providences of life that seems so cruel to us are in God’s plan a part of the elective purpose by which He is fitting us for the beautiful and heavenly life that is yet to come. I must close.
“This is My name,” He says. “My name is Jehovah. My name is ‘I Am That I Am’ [Exodus 3:14]—I Am That I Will Be. I will be someday the sole Sovereign of the world.” Satan no longer will dispute us or accuse us. He will be bound and cast into the abyss forever and ever [Revelation 20:10]. The earth shall be purged of unrighteousness and righteousness shall cover the earth as God’s waters shall cover the sea [Habakkuk 2:14]. And in that beautiful and ultimate world that God is preparing now, there will be no more death, neither sorrow, nor hurt [Revelation 21:4]. There will be none of these things that have destroyed, and ruined, and brought tears to our eyes, and brokenness to our hearts. But we shall live in His presence, and with one another, world without end. We shall see Him [Revelation 22:4]; we shall be like Him. And we shall walk in and out before His presence with the blessings of the Almighty God upon us.
Does God care for us? Does God know me? Does God know my name? [John 10:3]. Does God see me? That’s what God is! Somebody who loves, and cares, and sympathizes, and understands, and seeks, and saves, and forgives, and helps, and encourages, and walks by our side; loves us when we are unlovely, helping us up when we fall; taking care of us in life when we can’t take care of ourselves; standing by us when we die, and receiving us into glory when time comes for us to appear before the Lord. That’s our great God—Jehovah—Jesus our Lord, our great King, amen! Now may we stand together?
Our Lord, what feeble and stammering lips could not say, may the Holy Spirit add meaning. Thy mercies are beyond our song or our poem. Thy goodnesses to us are multiplied every day. We are not alone in the world—God is with us [Matthew 1:23, 28:20; Hebrews 13:8]. He is our friend and helper. He walks by our side. Eyes of faith can see Him; and ears of faith can hear Him; and our souls respond to His presence. God cares for us!
And in this quiet moment when we stand before the Lord, someday all of us will cry out for God. Why not now when God is present and in His saving mercy and grace, so near? Why not say, “Lord, I open my heart and my life to you. Come into my soul, into my heart, into my life Lord Jesus.” Begin again with Him. Start all over anew with the Lord. Make your life full and rich and infinitely blessed with His presence.
And our Lord, for families, for couples, for young men and women, for children, for families, we pray. May God grant this morning, a beautiful and precious harvest to lay at Thy dear feet; Thou art so worthy, O God. That we knew better how to serve Thee. We offer Thee our hearts and our lives, the strength of our hands, the devotion of our souls. Lord, have us, receive us, take us, bless us, save us, in Thy wonderful name, amen.
While our people pray, while our deacons and ministers are here to welcome you, the angels, God says are present in the services of the church [1 Corinthians 11:10]. And the angels, God says, rejoice when just one of us comes down that aisle [Luke 15:10]. May the Lord grant joy in heaven today in your coming. Out of the balcony, on the lower floor, down a stairway, down an aisle, “We have decided for God today, pastor, and here we stand.” Do it now, while we pray and while we sing.
IS THERE A GOD WHO CARES ABOUT ME?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Everything seems to argue for our insignificance
A. Smallness of earth in the universe
B. Smallness of man on the earth
II. Is there a God somewhere who cares about me?
III. God has a personal name
A. Personal – God is not an “it”
B. God reveals Himself
IV. God’s name reveals Him
A. YAHWEH – Exodus 3:14 – most sacred Hebrew word
B. “I Am That I Am”
V. What is God like and does He care for me?
A. Jesus is God and He is who God is like
B. He died as our substitute to deliver us
C. He poured out His Spirit upon us without measure
VI. For the Christian, God is with us forever