“Always in the Care of a Loving God” – Brad Jersak
“We are always in the care of a loving God.”
Attendees of 12-Step Recovery meetings (AA, NA, SAA, etc.) regularly make a powerful and counterintuitive affirmation—from and for addicts who, given their history of tragic life experiences, might have every reason to disbelieve it. They say:
- “We learn that the world is a much safer place than we had ever known before, because we are always in the care of a loving God.”
Seriously? I generally don’t regard this world as a safe place. Just watch the news tonight (or better, take an extended mental health break from it!). But my sense that life in this world is mainly tragic is, in part, because my vision is shrouded in storm clouds of forgetfulness. Specifically, I forget that God is “everywhere present and fills all things” and that somehow, the sovereign care of our heavenly Father is a real thing.
Now, one of my heroes, Simone Weil keeps me honest: she once wrote that God sees every sparrow that falls…and yet they still fall. In his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus insists we are far more valuable than sparrows, and yet we still fall. He claims that our heavenly Father generously “causes” the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the righteous and wicked alike … but with them, Weil adds, tornadoes and droughts as well, no?
If she stopped there, we might infer that God is cruel and capricious, as we see in John Calvin’s conviction that “God governs every evil. Nay, he commands it.” Or we might just become cynical and say that if God is not an arbitrary actor in this world, he’s simply absent.
Weil actually rejects the idea that God directly meddles in secondary causes (human freedom and natural law), but this begs the question, “Then how does God actually administer his fatherly care?”
As I point out in A More Christlike God, the heavenly Father’s care is mediated in this world through willing human partners. God cares through people who, like Christ, image (verb) God’s care and partner with Jesus in his caregiving work. Desmond Tutu illustrated this with the story of the five loaves and two fish. Jesus found a little boy who wanted to participate in God’s care for hungry people. And the child discovered that even in offering his minimal gift, he found a divine partner who would multiply his gift.
So, while Job might disagree that the world is a safe place, (just for today) I will trust Jesus’ promise that God does care. And not just sending caring thoughts but through his caregiving involvement through willing human partners. Christ-followers who’ve heard both all of creation and the Spirit groan for us—groaning for us to ‘show up’ so we can work together with them for the good (Romans 8 ).