Don’t You Care?
Dear heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit on us so that even in stormy times, we may trust your Son Jesus Christ is with us. Amen.
Don’t you care?
People in other countries such as Africa are being butchered, raped, brutalised and enslaved by twisted and cruel gun-wielding criminals. As they live in constant fear for their lives and grieve the loss of so many family and friends, they cry out to the rest of the world: Don’t you care?
Religious fanatics and war-crazed people are overtaking town after town, forcing millions to flee their homes, where those who are left behind, especially Christians, are forced into submission, proudly beheaded, or sold as victory booty for human pleasure, and they scream to those who watch on: Don’t you care?
Countless babies are aborted because they’re considered an inconvenience, and we wonder why the cry against these murders of innocent ones isn’t being yelled more loudly to an ambivalent and uncaring population: Don’t you care?
Teenagers cry out and tell of their depression and self-loathing on Facebook and Twitter as a result of bullying and abuse at school or in the home. Their self-confidence is shattered and they’re considering suicide because when they ask, ‘Don’t you care?’, they hear either nothing or taunts to ‘Go right ahead’.
The examples are almost endless as so many hurting and frightened people cry out: Don’t you care?
It’s a question accusing people of a lack of empathy. This question also assumes the answer is no, they don’t care. Unfortunately in a world which is more concerned with satisfying selfish desires and looking only to please oneself, this assumption is often correct.
Many people just don’t care anymore. They only care for themselves. You only have to see how many people no longer make an effort to volunteer to serve their community or support charities.
What’s even scarier is, even some of those who regularly hear the gospel of a God who cares for the outcast, the leper, the sinner, and the tax-collector, no longer care either.
There are times when even you and I don’t care. As fallen sinners, we’re often more concerned for ourselves than those in need.
Today the question: “Don’t you care?” is asked of Jesus.
Now in one sense you can understand how the disciples might ask this of Jesus. They’re battling through a storm, possibly fearing for their lives, and there’s Jesus sound asleep in the back of the boat!
But what did they expect Jesus to do? Bail water out of the boat? Have a turn at tending the tiller or pulling the oars? What were they expecting of him? Surely they weren’t expecting him to stop the storm, were they?
To do that would mean they fully expected him to have authority over creation, and well, let’s face it; no human can do that because only the One true God who spoke creation into being would be able to do that, so no! To expect this of him would be ludicrous!
In a similar way, when you accuse Jesus of not caring, what are you expecting him to do? Do you really expect him to make all the storms in your life stop? Do you expect him to make sure you always live a perfectly calm and peaceful life for the whole time you’re here on earth?
If this is what you’re expecting of him, would he also ask of you the same question he asked his disciples: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
The sad and scary fact is: storms will come in our lives.
- Sometimes they’re the natural storms of wind, waves, earthquakes, fire, floods, droughts, and tsunamis.
- Sometimes they’re the human made storms of terrorism, greed, apathy, and war.
- Sometimes they’re the localized storms within family life, as we face conflicts, unfaithfulness, and change.
- Sometimes they’re the storms of age or health problems, as our bodies deteriorate and suffer.
- Sometimes they’re the storms of the mind or heart, as we face depression, grief, anger, and inner turmoil.
While it’s easy to trust God when everything’s calm, it’s harder to trust when things go wrong and we wonder if he’s asleep and can’t hear our cries or whether he doesn’t care.
In order to see if he really cares, we might wonder how to wake him to our needs. In order to get his attention, we might try to bargain with him.
Perhaps if we pray the right prayers, study the bible more, have longer devotions, throw ourselves into ‘church’ activities, or even promise to stop sinning, he’ll care enough to give us the answer we’re waiting for?
Sometimes we’re tempted to say”: “Wake up, Jesus! Look at me! See what I’ve done for you! And if I’m not good enough, then have pity on me and my situation – look at my pain, my tears, and my faith! After all, don’t you care?”
So, let’s consider the question: Does Jesus care for us?
Well, he could have stayed far away from us, safe in heaven and protected from pain and death. He could have left us to our own devices. He could have jumped ship and given up on people like you and I who don’t always get what it is to have faith in a God who does care even when the storms aren’t taken away.
He has good reason to ignore us because we don’t care enough for him or his people, or because we don’t do what he asks of us or stay within the boundaries he sets.
Does Jesus care for us?
As our Creator, does he care enough to speak to those chaotic waters at creation and say ‘so far, and no further’? Does he care enough to walk in our broken world, to wear human skin, and to feel human pain, temptation, and the frailties of human life? Does he care enough to patiently and lovingly teach scared, impulsive and ordinary people about trusting God, even when they always seem so slow to learn?
Does he care enough to touch the scarred, the broken, the sick, the ostracized, and the dying? Does he care enough to face the storms of unbelief, disobedience, charges of blasphemy, beatings, spitting, whippings, nail-piercing, and even death, and still pray to his Father ‘not my will but your will be done’ even though his Father’s will meant suffering and death?
Does he care enough to take our place on the cross and die for us in order to save sinners like us from the punishment of death, from the devil’s deceptive schemes, and even from our own sinful self?
Does Jesus care for us?
The answer is, our God cares so much, he sent Jesus to be with us through the storms, in our sicknesses, to complete the Law for us, to be beaten and die in our place, and to accompany us through the valleys of the shadow of death.
He’s with his scared and frightened disciples. The Lord of Creation is with us in our storms. He is true to his name Immanuel, which means ‘God-with-us’.
So to answer the question whether he cares or not, Jesus asked his own accusing questions back to the frightened disciples after he calmed the storm.
His answer is almost as if Jesus was saying “Look guys, I’m here with you. You’ve just seen some more of my majesty. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you’ll soon figure out who I really am. So, when I am with you, have courage! Trust me, even when it seems like I’m sleeping.”
Here in this ship called the Church, even when it’s battered by the winds and waves of our times, Jesus is here with us.
He still speaks words that do what they say. He still speaks his powerful word today over the products of nature so that in bread and wine we receive his true body and blood. He still speaks his words of love and forgiveness to us which cleanses troubled and storm-tossed consciences. He still feeds us with his words, helping our struggling faith to grow and mature even during times of heartache and pain.
God does care. The Lord Jesus Christ is with us, so have courage.
There is a saying which reads: “Sometimes God calms the storm; sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms his child.”
And so Jesus, with a word, brings peace, calmness, reconciliation, and new life. Sometimes he may calm the storm outside you, and sometimes he calms the storm within you while the storm continues to rage without.
Jesus is here with us to claim us as his own through his word and calming waters of baptism, bringing us into his kingdom. He forgives us with his word, creating calmness and peace where once was a raging storm. He nourishes our fragile faith with the real presence of his body and blood. And one day, he’ll raise us to new life through his word, and we will live in his eternal peace, where chaos and storms and evil have no place.
As people who know God cares for us, we too are able to care for others in their storm-tossed lives. We can show care and compassion for the lonely, the isolated, the despairing, and the suffering.
Knowing Jesus is with us, we can have courage to care for people in Africa, Iraq, and Syria through our generosity and prayer; we can care for those whose life is threatened with abortion, as well as their mothers; we can care for troubled teenagers who need to know God loves them; and we can care for people affected by both natural and man-made storms.
While we can’t always make their storms become still, we can pray on their behalf to the One who does care for them. We may even have opportunity to be with them and help them grow in courage in faith by sharing the hope we have through the word of God which reassures us our God cares for us through his Son Jesus Christ. We can bring them his words of peace through the gospel.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you feel threatened in your own storm-tossed life, and as you care for those around you who feel battered by life’s storms, have courage. God does care. The Lord Jesus Christ is with you. Trust him, even during those times it seems he’s sleeping, so that…
…the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
This message by Rev.Vince Gerhardy is brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas. For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected]. A Pass it On Project You can read more at Sunday by Sunday (LCA Worship Page)