(Part 2 of my true story that's inspired GodCanGodCares. Read the first post, God Can!, here)
Have you ever wondered if God cares? “I’m hurt. I’m lonely. I’m broke. God, don’t you care?” Or perhaps it’s bigger: “Pandemics. Tornadoes. Earthquakes. God, don’t you care?”
We’re not the first ones to ask this question (read the book of Job). Even Jesus’ twelve men wondered if he cared. Trapped on a boat in a tempest, they screamed, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38)
Yet the Bible emphatically declares that God cares for His people:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Here is a mystery: (1) people suffer, (2) God cares, and (3) those two things are not mutually exclusive. Not only that, but the Bible even suggests that some suffering is a gift:
“For to you, it has been granted (gifted) for Christ’s sake not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for His sake.” – Philippians 1:29
Perhaps my struggle (below) with “God, do you care?” will bring you hope. Like my previous post (God Can), this has a baseball flavor … ⚾
“Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place.” Untrue.
Another Tough Summer
Three summers after catching a Major League baseball, we were back in Milwaukee, visiting family. I was in the throes of deep disappointment with God. Why? We were moving from Baltimore to Harrisonburg, VA, to lead the campus ministry at JMU. I’d taken several trips to find a home, scoured the market, but came up empty. The academic year was fast approaching, and we had no place to call home. And, our finances were in trouble.
I was grumpy. After all, how hard could it be for God to find us a home? Or to meet our financial needs? My mind parked in a bad spot, accusing God of not caring about me. I spewed in my journal: “God, I don’t think you care about me. Because, if you did, you could do ______ and ________ and _______.”
Baseball Game #2
Right then, an old college roommate (Jim P.) called and asked if I wanted to go see the Brewers play the Texas Rangers. He had free tickets for tomorrow’s 1 pm game. But I declined because we had a lunch appointment the next day. Nevertheless, after our lunch, the phone rang. It was Jim. “Danny, I’m at the stadium with free tickets. Can you come?” I looked at Paula and asked, “Sweetie, can I go the game?” She said “yes,” and I sprinted out the door yelling, “if I catch a baseball, it’s yours!”
I arrived at the Stadium in the 4th inning. It was a dreary day. We sat in the upper grandstand – first base side – front row. Since it was lightly raining, I skipped several wet seats to find a dry one, plumping myself down for the game.
Because we sat in the first row of the upper deck, horizontal steel bars obstructed my view of the field. Worse, I sat directly behind a vertical post supporting the bars. For the entire game, I would lean left or right to see the action, like a lurching metronome in motion. On top of this mild irritant, I continued to be perturbed by God’s seeming lack of care for my bigger problems.
The 8th Inning, Again
The game proceeded – 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th inning. Monte Farris (Texas Rangers) strode to the plate. Jamie Navarro was on the mound for the Brewers. And frankly, I wasn’t paying attention. I was just logging time in my seat, grumpy at God, waiting for the game to end.
But then I sensed electricity in the air. For some reason, the crowd stirred. I looked down at the field, but the vertical post blocked my view. Leaning hard left … my eyes bulged. I sprung to my feet; the upward meteor glowed – the red laces tumbling end over end. As the orb reached its zenith, chest-high, my hands gently enveloped this baseball, launched off the bat of God.
Suspecting television cameras were rolling, I turned to the crowd and leaped for joy, celebrating my stupendous catch! When my 15 seconds of fame were over, I sat back down in my seat … and began to cry.
The first baseball I caught (three summers earlier, which reminds me that God Can) was in answer to my prayer to fulfill a lifelong dream. But this second ball came while I was angry with God, questioning His care.
O! How God Cares
The next day, a ministry partner met with us and said he wanted to meet our entire financial need. And God’s house in Harrisonburg came, where we lived happily for 20 years, raising our children and ministering to thousands of collegians. We called it our "Little House on the Cul-de-sac.”
Does God Care? Though we don’t deserve it, He does. Now I have two baseballs sitting in my office, twin reminders that God Can and God Cares. They are a source of great comfort and great challenge: to launch out and take the next risk for Him.