Is There A God Who Cares About Me?
February 15th, 1981 @ 8:15 AM
IS THERE A GOD WHO CARES ABOUT ME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-15-81 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing with us the service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message 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 even know that I exist? Is it anything to Him whether I live or die, whether I am in sorrow or in gladness? Is There A God Who Cares About Me? In our Bibles, we can turn to the forty-second Psalm; Psalm 42, 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? . . .
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me?…
O my God, my soul is cast down within me . . .
Deep calleth unto the deep . . . all Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me . . .
As with the sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they daily say unto me, Where is thy God?
Is there a God who cares about me?
Practically everything that we see argues for our inconsequential insignificance. When the astronomer lectures or writes a book and describes the vast infinitude of the creation, he will inevitably point out that our earth is but a speck, a small speck of fine dust in the whole universe. Our earth itself is a vast cemetery, a place in which to bury the dead. The mountains lift up their heads in helplessness. The valleys are deep depressions of hopelessness. The oceans are seas of blood from war and violence and murder. The rivers are streams of tears pouring forth from the heart of humanity.
In a magazine, I saw a picture of a vast ocean in turbulence. And underneath, “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.” Is there anyone who cares about me? Is my life of any value and of any importance to anybody?
A funeral director asked me if I would conduct a service. When I went to conduct the meeting, the memorial, there was nobody there. And the funeral director said to me, “Could you ask somebody to come so that in the future, if ever a question was asked, we could say we have a witness? ‘This man had a decent and a Christian burial.’”
So I went out on the street, and I stopped at a hamburger joint. And I asked the hamburger man if he would come to the memorial service. I conducted it with that hamburger man there. We were the only ones beside the funeral director present at the service. Does God know the name of that man? Does God know who he was? Does God know where he’s buried? Does God see the dust in the earth that once was that unnamed, unknown pilgrim called into the presence of the great beyond? Is there a God who cares about me?
Our search for God cannot be quiesced or stilled or stifled in our lives. I was listening to a great man in Dallas who is not a Christian, seems to be so able and affluent and self-sufficient. But as he gets older, he increasingly thinks about death and the days to come and what of the possibility of standing before God.
A postgraduate student of Tokyo University went to Nikko—I have been there. Many of you have; the great shrine of the worship of the god of Japan—after that finally to the mountains, to a great waterfall, then wrote this note, “I have gone through the difficult task of education, searching for God, but I have failed. I came to Nikko 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 Him there.”
He leaped into the mad swirling rapids and plunged over the precipice to his death. And in reading of that, the same suicidal act was repeated by others, within eight years to the number of two hundred eighty-six, until the government intervened and took steps to stop the students from taking a like plunge.
There is an undeniable yearning and longing in all of our hearts for the reality of God. Youth and beauty fade away. They said the reason Marilyn Monroe committed suicide; she came to the age where she saw her beauty was fading away. Affluence and money and empire cannot buy for us a reprieve from age and senility and death. We inevitably face a yearning and a longing and a hunger for God.
I heard of a father who with three little children tugging at his coat stood by an open grave and saw his wife and the mother of those little children lowered beneath the sod. They were so young they couldn’t understand.
When they went back to the home, the children scurried through the house to find mommy and cried, “Where is Mommy?” And the father said, “Little sweet children, I will be your mommy.” And they cried, “No, no! We want Mommy.” When time came to put the children to bed, he went next door to a motherly neighbor and said, “Would you come and put the children to bed?”
The sweet neighborly mother took the three children, put them to bed, tucked them and kissed them and said, “I will be your mother.” And they replied, “No, no! We want Mommy.” And they cried themselves to sleep. We are exactly like those children. Where is God? And does He know me? Does He know my name? Does He exist? And does He care? There is a seeking after God that is a component, concomitant, integral part of the way our lives are put together. All of us are alike in that. We cannot escape it. “Where is thy God?”
In the history of the human race, they have looked at the sun and asked, “Are you God?” And some have worshiped the sun. They’ve looked at the moon, “Are you God?” and have worshiped the moon. They’ve looked at the stars of the heavens, “Are you God?” and they worshiped the stars of the heavens. Some have looked at the laws invisible that govern the universe and asked, “Are you God, some great primal first cause?” Some have looked at the earth and worshiped sticks, and stones, and trees, and nature, “Are you God?” And some have looked at the great heroes of mythology and of history and have asked, “Are you God?” There is something in our souls that seeks after God.
How would you define a soul? What would it look like? Could you hold it in your hand? We don’t know. We’ve never seen a soul, nor are we able to delineate it or to define it. We just know that inside of the soul and of the heart there is the moving of God.
I ask my eye, “Did you see God enter in?” and my eye replies, “I just see color and line.” I ask my ear, “Did you hear God enter in?” and my ear replies, “I just hear sound.” I ask my fingers, “Did you feel God when He brushed by?” and my fingers reply, “I just touch tangible objects.” Then where did He come from?
In my soul, and in my spirit, and in my heart, and in my deepest life, I feel the presence of God! It must be that there is a compassionate, tender concern and care on the part of a great loving Somebody who has touched my life. He is knocking at the door of my heart. Somebody must know me, and Somebody must seek after me. Somebody must be bidding me come to Him; a God who cares about me.
In the wonderful self-revelation of that great moving presence that we feel in our hearts and in our souls, there is an incomparable revelation in His name. When He reveals to us His name, there is a marvelous personal revelation in His name of His love and care for us. God has a personal name. God is somebody. He is not an “it.”
God is not impersonal force. God is not the sum total of all the resident laws that govern the universe. God is somebody, personal. To depersonalize God is to take away the rose and leave us just the thorn. To depersonalize God is to take away our sun and to plunge us into utter and absolute darkness. God is somebody. He is personal.
Enoch walked with cosmic energy, or cosmic law, or cosmic force? “Enoch walked with God” [Genesis 5:24]. Hagar in her cry in the wilderness, ministered to, taken care of by the great Almighty, she did not know His name. She called Him, “Thou God seest me” [Genesis 16:13]. Always in the Bible, thousands of times it is “He.” It is “Him.” It is “Me.” It is “I.” It is “Mine.” It is always personal. And God has a personal name that reveals His loving care for us.
When Moses was on the back side of the desert, the Lord appeared to him in a bush that burned [Exodus 3:1-3]. And He said to Moses, “I have seen the affliction of My people. I have heard their cry” [Exodus 3:7]. Not cosmic force, not impersonal law, “I have heard the cry of My people, and I have seen their affliction. Therefore now I am sending you to deliver My people out of slavery” [Exodus 3:9-10]. And Moses replies, “Lord, when I go down into the land of Egypt and tell them that You sent me, who shall I say sent me? What is Your name?” And the Lord God replies, “You tell them, Yahweh, Yahweh”; four consonants in the Hebrew alphabet, the pronunciation of which has been lost for these thousands of years.
We get the name Jehovah by taking the vowel pointing of the word adonai, “Lord,” and putting it to those four consonants of the Hebrew alphabet, and it comes out “Jehovah.” Possibly the nearest pronunciation would be Yahweh. “You tell them Yahweh sent you.” And Yahweh is translated in the Bible, “You tell them, I Am That I Am sent you” [Exodus 3:14].
These grammarians say that a better translation would be, “You tell them, I Will Be What I Will Be has sent you.” What did God mean when He said to Moses, “My name is Yahweh? My name is Jehovah, I Will Be What I Will Be.” What did God mean when He said that? The Lord meant, “I will be their Deliverer. I will bring them out of bondage” [Exodus 6:6-8]. God meant, “I will be their Guide. I will lead them through the wilderness in a fire by night and a in cloud by day [Exodus 13:21-22]. I will be their Shepherd [Ezekiel 34:11-24]. I will tenderly care for them.”
In Isaiah 63:9, Isaiah writing of the affliction of Egypt, he says, “In all their affliction He was afflicted.” Can you believe that? When they cried, He cried. When they were burdened, He was burdened. When they wept, He wept. When they hurt, He hurt. These theologians in their books without exception will say, “God cannot be hurt; He is perfect. God cannot be disturbed; He is undisturbable.” I don’t believe that! God is like us, and the Bible so portrays Him. “In all their affliction He was afflicted [Isaiah 63:9]. The Angel of His Presence saved them [Isaiah 63:9]; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them [Isaiah 63:9]. And He bare them, and carried them all the days of old” [Isaiah 63:9]. “I will be what I will be. I will be their Shepherd, and I will carry them.” And through all of the story of Israel, it is the same personal loving, caring Jehovah; that is, God moved with the feeling of our infirmities [Hebrews 4:15-16].
It was God who sent Isaiah back to Hezekiah saying to him, “I have seen your tears. I have heard your prayers [Isaiah 38:5]. I have added fifteen years to your life” [2 Kings 20:5-6]. Always, always He reveals Himself as being personal. He knows all about us. He is moved with our tears, and our prayers, and our supplication;, our troubles are His, and He bears us.
Like the beautiful, beautiful verse in the fortieth chapter of Isaiah when God is described as being omnipotent, “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: He taketh up the isles as a very little thing . . . All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity” [Isaiah 40:15-17]. That’s the great God; but look at the way He is described, “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]. Can you believe that in the midst of a chapter where God is described as the great mighty all omnipotence [Isaiah 40:10], that He should in the same breath be described, “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and shall carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young?” [Isaiah 40:11].
Is there a God who cares about me? His name is that, “I Will Be That I Will Be” [Exodus 3:14]. His name is Yahweh. “I will be one of you, I Will Be What I Will Be. I will be fashioned as a man” [Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 10:5], the most inexplicable mystery of the universe, not creation itself, not matter itself, not all of the infinitude that we behold around us—no wonder Paul described, “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” [1 Timothy 3:16]. “I Will Be What I Will Be, that is My name [Exodus 3:14]; I will be your fellow pilgrim. I will be your traveling partner. I will be your friend, one that sticketh closer than a brother [Proverbs 18:24]. I will be your sympathizer and understander and helper. I will be like you.”
Is there a God who cares about us? He became one of us [Philippians 2:7-8]. God did! In the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of John and the [forty-first] verse, John says, “When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up” [Isaiah 6:1], in the sixth chapter of Isaiah, when Isaiah saw the vision of the glorious Lord, John says, he saw Jesus [John 12:41]. He saw a Christophany. He saw Jehovah, Yahweh in the Old Testament; in the flesh, His name is Jesus. But John says He is the same. Yahweh, Jehovah of the Old Testament, is Jesus of the New Testament. And the whole revelation of the love and mercy of God toward us is just that. It starts off with the glorious announcement. “This girl you are preparing to put away, she is with child of the Holy Ghost” [Matthew 1:19-20], said the angel to Joseph:
And that Son that shall be born of her is to be named Jesus, Savior: for He shall save His people from their sins.
And all of this came to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah,
Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son; and they shall call His name Immanuel, God is with us.
And when the angel made the announcement to Mary, the virgin of Nazareth, he said to her, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; wherefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” [Luke 1:35]. And the doctrine of the New Testament so emphasizes that. Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:3, “He is the express image of the invisible God.” As Jesus said, “He that has seen Me hath seen the Father” [John 14:9]. And as John the apostle wrote, “God was the Word [John 1:1]; and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” [John 1:14].
What is God like? If I could see God, what would I see? God is like Jesus. And when I see Jesus, I see God. And what is God like? What is Jehovah Jesus like? This is what He is like. Looking at the people, the Book says, “He was moved with compassion” [Matthew 9:36].
“Jesus moved with compassion” [Mark 1:41], is ever His enduring name. What is God like? He taught us the very hairs of our head are numbered. He does not only know my name [John 10:3], He knows the number of hairs in my head [Matthew 10:30]. He taught us there is not a sparrow that falls to the ground but that the eye of the heavenly Father followed it [Matthew 10:29]. He said, “A shepherd sought a lost sheep [Luke 15:3-7]; and a housewife, a mother, sought a lost coin [Luke 15:8-10]; and a father sought a lost boy” [Luke 15:11-32]. “Even so the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” [Luke 19:10].
Does God care about us? In His ministry, He was sensitive. Crowded and thronged on every side, a woman, a poor afflicted woman touched the hem of His garment, the hem of His garment [Matthew 9:20; Luke 8:43-44], and He says, “Who touched Me?” [Luke 8:45], sensitive to our smallest gesture.
In His preaching and in His teaching from village to village, the poor heard Him and rejoiced [Matthew 11:5]. In His loving; weeping at the tomb of Lazarus [John 11:35-43], weeping over the city [Luke 19:41], in Gethsemane weeping over the lost world [Hebrews 5:7-8]. On the cross, dying in our stead [1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 2:9, 10:5-14]; and in heaven today presented as the great High Priest who is moved with the feeling of our infirmities [Hebrews 4:14-15]. “Wherefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that ye might find help in time of need” [Hebrews 4:16]; God who cares about us [1 Peter 5:7].
“My name is Yahweh [Exodus 3:14]. My name is I Will Be What I Will Be. My name is I Will Be With You Forever” [Exodus 3:14]. He poured out the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, upon the earth and He is with us [Acts 2:16-17]. His name is Immanuel, God With Us [Matthew 1:23]. And the pouring out of the Spirit of God is the presence of Jesus in our midst [John 16:14-15].
When we assemble together, He is here. When we pray, He is there. In all of our pilgrim ways, Jesus is by our side. The marvel and the wonder of the seeking heart of Jesus, not that we seek Him but that He seeks us, as John wrote it in 1 John 4, “Not that we loved Him, but that He loved us” [1 John 4:10].
It is a seeking God who ever reveals Himself to us, as He did in the garden of Eden, “Adam, where art thou? Hearing the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” [Genesis 3:8]. Seeking, intervening in the days of Noah, or Abraham, or Moses; the seeking God. And always inclusive, never exclusive—Rahab the harlot, Ruth the Moabitess, they are in the genealogy of Jesus [Matthew 1:5]. Including even Nineveh; the Assyrian was an ogre to the ancient Jew, but God sent a prophet to Nineveh [Jonah 1:1-2, 3:1-3]. And with what vigor did Jonah preach, “Yet forty day, and Nineveh will be destroyed!” [Jonah 3:4]. But God said, “When Nineveh repents, I repent Me” [Jonah 3:9-10], and He saves them [Jonah 3:5-10, 4:11]. And Jonah says, “Is that not what I told You? [Jonah 4:1-2]. I didn’t want to go to preach to that ancient capital, that Assyrian capital, because I knew You were a God of compassion and tender mercy and forgiving, loving kindness.” It is inclusive. Always the outpouring of the love of God shuts nobody out. Everybody is invited and included:
The Spirit and the bride say, Come.
Let him that heareth say, Come.
Let him that is athirst come.
And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely
A God who cares about me.
And when I look sometimes at some of the dregs of humanity, the flotsam and the jetsam of life, the outcasts, I have to remind myself: this is a man for whom Jesus died. These are a people for whom Christ gave His life; they are dear in His sight. They are loved in His heart; they are before Him always as a people to be redeemed and to be lifted up, to be forgiven and to be saved.
The outpouring of the Spirit of God is always inclusive, never exclusive. Anybody can come, anybody. In the seventh chapter of the Revelation, “Before the throne of grace, they were there from every tribe, and nation, and tongue under the sun” [Revelation 7:9]. All of us are included.
Is there a God who cares about me? In the pilgrimage of life, He is always by our sides. He is just there. With eyes of faith, you can see Him, and with the hand of belief, you can touch Him. In the fiery furnace, He was there [Daniel 3:20-25]. At the stoning of Stephen, He was there [Acts 7:55-56, 59-60]. In the awful tempest of the Mediterranean that destroyed the ship on which Paul was sailing to Rome, Jesus was there [Acts 27:23]. On the isle of Patmos, when John was exiled thus to die, Jesus was there. He turned and saw Him [Revelation 1:9-13]. He is always with us, always.
And our trials and our troubles and our sorrows; in the infinite wisdom of God, a wisdom beyond what we can understand, in the infinite wisdom of God, our trials and our troubles have a heavenly and holy purpose. Several times in the Book of Hebrews does the author say, “The Son of God was made perfect in suffering [Hebrews 2:10]. And though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered” [Hebrews 5:8].
All of the trials that we have in human life have a definite purpose. The Son of God was perfected in His suffering [Hebrews 2:10]. He couldn’t be our sympathetic understanding High Priest [Hebrews 4:14-15], if He didn’t know what it was to cry, if He didn’t know what it was to be hurt, if He didn’t know what it was to be crushed, if He didn’t know what it was to die.
He was perfected as our Savior and our great Intercessor and as our mighty Deliverer by His suffering [Hebrews 2:10]. Suffering has a definite elective purpose in all of our lives. We cannot be saved apart from the cross. We are saved by the cross [1 Corinthians 1:17-25]. In our tribulations, we come to know the meaning of the great promises of God. The apostles and the martyrs were made strong in their weakness. The gold that refines the fire burns furiously.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply
The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine
[“How Firm a Foundation,” R. Keen, 1787]
God is with us in all of our trials. In every suffering we know, in every heartache that we feel, in every burst of sobbing and crying that sometimes overwhelms us, the Lord is in it. There is a great purpose of God in all the trials of our lives.
And last, “I Will Be What I Will Be” [Exodus 3:14]. Someday, someday, He will be the sole Sovereign of this creation and of all life and living [1 Timothy 6:15]. A mystery we cannot enter into why Satan is forbidden now to deceive the nations, but someday Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit [Revelation 20:1-3]. Someday the earth will be purged from all unrighteousness [Matthew 13:41], and someday the presence of the throne of God will be set in our midst [Revelation 21:5], and we shall serve our Savior and see Him face to face [Matthew 13:41; Revelation 22:3-4].
And in that day, there will be no more war [Isaiah 2:4]. “And in that day, there will be no more sorrow, neither crying; no more death, no more pain: for these things are all passed away” [Revelation 21:4]. God says, “That is My name. My name is I Will Be What I Will Be [Exodus 3:14]. My name is I Shall Be Sole Sovereign of the World. My name is l Will Be Savior, and Keeper, and Lord, and God, and Shepherd, and Guide, and Helper, and Sustainer forever and forever.” Is there a God who cares about me? His name is Yahweh; His name is Jehovah [Exodus 3:14]. His name is Jesus [Matthew 1:21]. His name is Savior [Acts 13:23; Titus 2:13]. His name is our Lord and our King forever and forever [Revelation 19:16]. May we stand together?
Our Lord, with halting and feeble words, we have sought to speak of the marvelous loving care of God for us [Matthew 18:10]. And what words couldn’t say and what feeble effort couldn’t convey, may the Holy Spirit of Jesus who lives in our hearts [John 14:16], and who knocks at the door of our lives [Revelation 3:20], may He bring to us the truth and the wonder, and the mystery, and the might, and the saving grace of the message [Ephesians 2:8-9].
Oh, how precious to know there is God who watches over us! He sends His angels to take care of us. He is preparing for us a beautiful home in heaven [John 14:1-3]. And when age and death inevitably come, this is not the blackness of the night of despair. This is the opening of the door into the beautiful and holy and heavenly life that God hath promised to those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].
And in this moment when our people bow so quietly and reverently in the presence of the Lord God, in this moment, a family you, a couple you, one somebody you, this day, “I answer God’s call to my life. My whole family, we’re coming.” Or just you, “I want to take the Lord as my Savior. I want to open my heart to Jesus.” Or, “We want to put our lives here in the church.” As God shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life. And our Lord, we thank Thee for those God will give us this holy and sacred hour, in our Savior’s precious name, amen.
While our people wait just for this moment and while our choir sings, down that stairway, down this aisle, “Pastor today we’re coming.” Some to give heart to Jesus, some to be baptized, some to put life in the church, while we sing the appeal, take that first step, and God’s angels will guide you the rest of the way, while we make appeal, while we sing.