Learning to Embrace the God Who Cares
My husband lay next to me as I sobbed, utterly overwhelmed.
“Have you prayed about it?” he asked me.
At first, I lied and said yes. But the more I cried, the more the truth slipped out. “I haven’t really bothered praying that much about it,” I whispered. “It doesn’t matter if I pray. He’s going to do what he’s going to do, and he expects me to be okay with it. He doesn’t care what I want.”
As the fatalistic words fumbled out of my mouth, Phillip pulled me closer. “You’re listening to lies again,” he said.
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases,” I quoted from Psalm 115.
“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he . . .” Phillip started, nudging me.
“Cares for me.”
It’s not about you.
I have been a Christian for most of my life.
I was baptized at the age of six, and though I’ve had my fair share of growing pains in the twenty-plus years since, I truly believe that’s when God saved me. I formulated my theology early thanks to life as a pastor’s kid and my avid interest in reading. I grew to know all of the “right things” about God.
Like a lot of junior legalists, though, I specialized in rejecting the “wrong things” rather than emphasizing what was true. I cast my ideas about God in a negative mold rather than a positive one.
For instance: self-esteem was supposed to occupy the last spot on my virtue list. My goal wasn’t to think better of myself, but to think more of God! Self-confidence? Just another term for vanity. Prayer? Reorienting my heart to God’s will, not giving God a litany of all of the things that I wanted to have.
My theology was more adversarial than holistic. I majored in what God was not about and criticized the world for its lack of focus. I imagined him as merely judging, just, and kingly. To combat the wishy washy God our culture prized, I painted an austere, methodical, and, frankly, uncaring king in the sky.
The God Who Hears
That picture of God beleaguered me in times of trouble.
It discouraged me from running to God for comfort in times of pain. I did not feel that I could plant my confidence in him when facing doubt. It convinced me that he did not care about my stupid little human problems, because he had bigger God things to contend with.
Those are the beliefs that tumbled out of my mouth when my husband tried to comfort me. They paint only a portion of the picture that is the Most High God.
Take Hannah, for instance. We know her story well. She supplicated the Father for the gift of a son with such incredible fervor that the priest who saw her praying thought that she must be drunk. “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation” (1 Samuel 1:15–16).
And the priest responded, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him” (1 Samuel 1:17).
The Lord granted her prayer. When Hannah gave birth to her son, she named him Samuel, which sounds like the Hebrew word for “heard of God.”
God is not unlistening. He is not uncaring. He is not unseeing.
He hears (Psalm 34:17). He cares (Psalm 8:4). He sees (Genesis 16:13).
A Fuller Vision of God
I am reminded over and over that, in order to have a fuller vision of womanhood, I need a fuller vision of God.
When it comes to femininity, I can easily paint every question of what the Bible actually says as an act of rebellion. “Just fall in line. Keep a stiff upper lip. Be the quiet little lady you’re supposed to be.”
But this is not the way that God relates to his children.
He cares about the desires of our hearts. He cares about the beleaguerment of our minds. He cares about the troubling of our souls.
At times, he does not give us exactly what we ask for. Sometimes, he answers with a hard providence. But even then, he is not asking us to walk a road that his son has not walked before us. Even Jesus asked the Father to take away his bitter cup and was denied . . . in part for me (Luke 22:42).
But God still invites us to ask and believe that, whatever his answer, he knows what is best, and he will bolster us through any outcome.
I want to develop a theology robust enough to grasp the tenderness of my Father in heaven, who cares for me as I navigate what it means to follow him. I want to stop listening to half-baked lies about who he is, and embrace the truth of my perfect Father who does whatever he pleases and pleases to love me all the same.
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