Spirituality for Today – November 2010 – Volume 15, Issue 4

Does God Care?

By Msgr. Frank C. Wissel, D.Min.

There are many tragic things that happen every day. When a flood on the other side of the world kills thousands of people, or nine service men and women are killed in one day by a bomb in Afghanistan, or a young child is taken hostage and found dead weeks later, many people wonder: does God care?

A photo of people walking in deep water

Asking that question is an honest question wrung from the heart of a hurting person by the painful realities of life.

Most of us would not express our doubts that bluntly, but as a priest, dealing with many hurting people for many different reasons, I can understand why they are asking the question. It is very difficult to answer except to share with them the fact that if you question God or are angry with him, he understands.

No thoughtful believer can live very long in this kind of world without asking some serious questions about God. Does he care? We have been told that he does, we say that he does, we sing that he does. But does God really care?

Do not be embarrassed by the question. There is a Gospel reading which tells us of a time when the first followers of Christ had the same doubt concerning him. "

They were in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee when a storm blew up. The disciples were experienced sea men. But despite their best efforts, the boat was on the verge of sinking. Meanwhile, Jesus was in the stern sound asleep. Finally, in desperation, they shook him awake and said: "Teacher, doesn't it matter to you that we are going to drown?"

It is one thing to ask that question when you are standing on dry ground. It is another thing to ask it when you are in the midst of the sea, surrounded by angry waves. The most serious questions about God come not from theory but from tragedy. When we are caught in a storm from which there seems to be no escape, then the question becomes real and relevant-Does God care?

What I advise is: Don't dodge that question and don t be ashamed of it. Those disciples would never have become the men that were so greatly admired without that kind of experience when they doubted the concern of Christ and had the honesty to say so.

Living in this world is always a dangerous business sometimes the danger materializes and turns to tragedy. 50,000 young men and women were killed during the five-year war in Vietnam.

Statistics with tragedies can be numbing because more than 60,000 are killed on the road in this country every year. The statistic does not diminish the tragedy.

I suppose there is a kind of easygoing faith in God that never wonders, never struggles and never doubts. I am not sure what kind of faith that is, but somehow it doesn't seem to belong to the human condition in this kind of world.

But when a person stands with those first disciples and says to the Lord, "Doesn't it matter to you?" That person is at least dealing with reality.

He is facing the facts he is seeing what great men and women of faith have always seen: that we live in a tragic world, and that if we are going to believe in God at all, we must hold onto that faith in the midst of tragedy.

With unexpected storms in our lives, we must stand firm to our faith, which is a lifelong process of development. It is true that people tend to believe in God when all things are going well.

Remember, this happened to Jesus at Calvary when doubt was strong and faith was hard. It was there that he wondered why God had forsaken him, but it was also there that he calmly spoke his final sentence: "Father, into your hand I commend my spirit."

I have entitled this brief reflection "Does God care?" As long as you and I live in this world we will probably never stop wrestling with that question.

But the very experience that causes us to ask it will be the place where we find our answer. It is a strange paradox, but faith reaches its height in the midst of adversity.

Does God care? —You bet He does!