Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
— Matthew 4:38 NIV
For the longest time, I had a hard time grasping exactly how God cared for me. Like, cares specifically for me and not just cares for me grouped in with all of humanity in a “God cares for you in a general sense” kind of way. This probably stems from the fact that I am not a naturally caring, empathetic or even sympathetic person. I mean, don’t get me wrong — I care for people. I really do. If I had the ability to choose, I would choose for most humans not to have a bad day. Most probably being a keyword. So, yes, I care for people. The problem is that, most times, I don’t necessarily care about their problems. It’s been a struggle of mine for as long as I can remember.
For example, my initial thought to someone who has recently broken their arm isn’t, “My goodness, that’s awful.” My knee-jerk reaction would be, “I don’t see your problem. Cast on, then cast off. Problem solved. Why go on and on about it?”
Lost your whole arm? “Ever heard of prosthetics?” Prosthetics won’t work with your injury? “Isn’t there a guy in the NFL with one arm who catches footballs?”
As you can probably discern, this is not the type of banter that strengthens friendships or gets you decent gifts from family at Christmas.
This line of thinking further ignited my thoughts on God’s concern about my minute little life on this planet. Financial crisis? Why would it even put a red flag up on his radar? Me losing my home isn’t going to topple the cosmos into chaos. Stressed about a diagnosis? I’m but a mere speck in creation. Why would my problems be the least bit concerning to the ruler of the universe?
Maybe God watched me struggle with this. He probably watched and cringed, over and over, at the robotic, pre-programmed “caring” words exiting my mouth as I would say with cyborg-like inflection, “I’m sorry that happened to you. That must really suck.” Hey, I was trying.
Then God gave me children and sat back and watched the empathetic section of my brain start to flicker. Like the grinch’s heart that was too small, my anterior insular cortex was finally beginning to grow. (Yes, I googled it.) And I can say with certainty that I have never cared for and been more concerned for someone else’s well being ever in my life than at the very moment my daughter came to be. I buckled in pure agony the first time she got a scrape on her knee. I would fight back my own tears every time she cried at a doctors visit. She dropped her ice cream cone once and all I could think was, “Why her?”
What was happening to me? None of these things were necessarily my problems, and none of these things were even life altering problems for my daughter, but I cared! I cared oh so much.
Then I had a second daughter, and the process repeated. And guess what: I cared just as much at her minute little problems as I had cared for her sibling’s. If I had another, I would care. If I had five, 10, 15 children, it wouldn’t matter. I would care for every ounce of their little lives with every ounce of me. If we are indeed God’s children, which he has stated over and over, how could I ever question the amount of care he has for me?
I can’t say I’m a master at being empathetic yet, but I can tell you that I now better know what it means to care, and I know without a doubt that God cares.
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are…
— 1 John 3:1 NASB