Does Jesus Care?

Master, don't You care that we are perishing? -- Mark 4:38

Opening Prayer: Lord, sometimes it feels like we're gonna sink if You don't rescue us. Please show us whether You really care or not.

The opening Scripture should look familiar to you. Jesus and His disciples had entered a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. After Jesus fell asleep, a ferocious storm arose. This was not a gentle Spring rain. This storm was bad enough to make even the disciples -- experienced sailors -- fear for their lives.

So what did Jesus do about it? Let's see the next verse:

And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

A great calm: I like the sound of that. In fact, I could use more of that calm stuff. What about you?

Yeah. But that only proves that Jesus was willing to act to save His disciples. How do I know He cares about me?

Good question. People have been asking that for more than 1900 years now. In fact, Paul addressed this issue in his letter to the Hebrews, chapter 4:

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Our Lord Jesus walked the earth in human flesh. He personally experienced hunger, thirst, pain and great weariness. He remembers how it feels to be betrayed by "friends." He remembers the pain and shame of the brutal Roman crucifixion, which He willingly endured -- for YOU. In return, we must remember that His blessings come to us on the basis of grace -- gifts we did not earn.

But if God is so merciful and loving, why am I hurting so bad? If you had MY problems, you'd sing a different song!

Not necessarily. My friend Marvin had quite extensive "challenges" (to use a modern euphemism), and still loved to praise the Lord. Marvin was blind, like many of his fellow students in the Special Education class I taught years ago. Marvin played the piano and led the singing for this amazing group of dedicated saints.

Each Sunday, Marvin would sing a solo. His favorite (and mine) was an old hymn written by Frank Graeff and J. Lincoln Hall titled "Does Jesus Care?" The first verse and chorus are:

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained Too deeply for mirth and song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress, And the way grows weary and long?
O yes, He cares. I know He cares! His heart is touched with my grief.
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.

Can you sense the ring of truth in these words? We know that when Jesus walked this earth 2000 years ago, His heart was frequently touched by the grief and pain of those around Him. We frequently read that Jesus was moved with compassion.

Marvin usually concluded with the second verse and the chorus:

Does Jesus care when my way is dark with a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades, Does He care enough to be near?
O yes, He cares. I know He cares! His heart is touched with my grief.
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.

This second verse would touch my heart, as I watched this wonderful saint play and sing. This man had been able to see as a child, before a disease took away his vision. In his life, the daylight truly had faded into deep night shades. And the daylight never came back. But Marvin truly experienced the nearness of the Lord through all those dark years.

Touched by the experience, I looked for and found the song in my old Baptist hymnal. And discovered two additional verses. The third verse says:

Does Jesus care when I've tried and failed to resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief I find no relief, Tho my tears flow all the night long?
O yes, He cares. I know He cares! His heart is touched with my grief.
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.

Have I failed to resist? Yeah. Over the past 50 years, I've fallen for some really stupid and ordinary temptations, and felt absolutely shattered afterwards. How could I be so foolish? And how could a holy God ever forgive me?

The answer is that God's forgiveness is everywhere in Scripture. One of the most extreme examples is that of Simon Peter, who vehemently denied that he even knew Jesus. Yet Jesus personally sought Peter after His resurrection -- not to condemn Peter but to offer forgiveness and restoration. Remarkable.

Didn't you say there was a fourth verse?

Yes. And it didn't become real for me until a couple of years later, when my wife left me:

Does Jesus care when I've said goodbye To the dearest on earth to me;
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks, Is it aught to Him? Does He see?

That was one of the darkest times of my life. Each day I would cry out to the Lord, seeking peace and comfort -- that perfect peace promised in Scripture and available nowhere else in the universe. And each day, the Lord heard my cry and gave me peace, comfort and true joy. Despite the dreary circumstances and my unworthiness, the Lord was faithful to His promises. Somehow, I was able to sing:

O yes, He cares. I know He cares! His heart is touched with my grief.
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.

Closing prayer: Father, my eyes have seen trouble, and my tent feels tattered and frail. But I know -- by faith -- that Your promises are true and trustworthy. Guide me by Your Holy Spirit, to understand which of Your promises and commands are to be my vision for this day. Amen.

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