It's a question I never would have thought to ask several years ago. I may have even looked down on someone who asked. I would have said-- look at the birds-- look at the sunsets-- look at the way our hearts beat, our lungs expand-- the beautiful, intricate symphony of our body systems that keep us alive and going. I would have said, "Of course God cares! Look around you! What more proof do you need?"
But that was before the wilderness. It was before God said "no" to me. Repeatedly. For years. I cry out, "I'm in pain, God! Don't you care?!"
Some of you reading have either had a time, or are in the middle of a time, when God does not appear to care. Your burdens and pains may be secret ones. And when you shake hands in church or go to the grocery store, you plaster the understudy smile on your face (the one that is "on call" for when there is no genuine smile left), and you fake it. Meanwhile, there is an iceberg-sized hurt under the surface, just waiting to sink your life like the next Titanic. There appears to be no solution, and you just don't know how much longer you can take the pain.
If that has ever been you, or is you-- you may ask yourself-- Does God care? How can such private, secret pain ever be turned for good like Romans 8:28 promises? How can God be glorified by your anguish when He is the only other party aware of the true sorrow in your heart? After all, wouldn't it be more powerful if people could really perceive what you were dealing with-- to fully understand God's strength that holds you upright and helps you put both feet on the floor to start each new day?
I prayed to God about this, and in my despair at the moment, expected another silence. I prayed for faith-- faith to see the answer to this deep and perplexing question that haunts me. Is this all for nothing? Is all the endurance of pain just a big waste?
And as I was talking to my mom today, the answer came straight out of my mouth from the Holy Spirit-- referencing a verse I didn't even realize that I knew prior to this. It stunned me how quick and sharp the Sword of the Spirit can be-- going right to the heart of the matter.
When I ask what will become of the pain I carry in secret, Jesus responds:
"There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs." (Luke 12:2-3)
This is such good news for those of us who suffer silently, who have been misunderstood, misjudged, rejected, or who feel isolated as we struggle to maintain faith. The bottom line: Our choices made in private do matter. The darkness will not last forever. Jesus is the "light of the world," and when he shines, nothing will be able to hide.
Jesus went on to say:
"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
God does not overlook the small matters. If we feel insignificant and forgotten by God, we must ask ourselves-- are we as small, cheap, and tiny as a common sparrow? Are we as disposable as a hair? God keeps close track of those things. How much more will he care for you as a precious being made in his image and likeness? He cares for us with an everlasting love... (and as Elisabeth Elliot always reminded me on the radio every morning before my freshman math class) "...and underneath are the everlasting arms."
God does care. Do not lose heart.
The execution of Jesus is the proof that intense darkness comes to those whom God loves dearly.
Yet the empty tomb of Jesus is the proof that God sees, God hears, and God's light shines-- overpowering all darkness-- to reveal His glory in those who continue to cling to Him when there is no light.