The shooting of 26 people inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas saddened me greatly. Once again, it’s clear that much hatred and evil exist in our world. In this post, I’m not going to talk about why that is. What helps me more than a discussion of evil is a reminder of goodness and love.
Rather than trying to explain why God allows bad things to happen to good people, I’m focusing on how much God cares about all people. “He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43 NET)
Three beautiful word pictures that describe God’s affection
God encircles us like a range of mountains.
In the days before airplanes, rockets, and drones, people living in mountain valleys felt safe. Their enemies could not easily attack them because the mountains kept them from gaining access.
Living in Jerusalem surrounded by protective mountains, King David said, “Those who trust in God are like Zion Mountain: Nothing can move it, a rock-solid mountain you can always depend on. Mountains encircle Jerusalem, and God encircles his people—always has and always will” (Psalm 125: 2 MSG).
Mountains remind me of strength. When I think of being surrounded by “God’s mountain”, I think of Gods’ rock-solid strength. Knowing that I can count on him to protect me, I feel at peace. Does this mean that I will never suffer or get hurt? No, but it does mean he will not let me be destroyed by the suffering I experience. My spirit is eternal.
God gathers us under his wings like a mother hen.
Whether it’s a chicken or another type of bird, our feathery friends take care of their babies; they cuddle them and keep them warm. And the baby birds run to that place of comfort.
God’s love for us is like that. Even when we run the other direction, intent on going out separate ways, he longs to see us return so that he can comfort us with his affectionate love. Jesus, who was soon to be killed by the religious leaders of his day, stood at a mountain peak overlooking Jerusalem and said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37 NIV).
That kind of affection is beyond my understanding. It’s incredible. The truth that God longs to hold and comfort me when I’ve been disrespectful to him or rebellious or hateful brings tears to my eyes.
God carries us close to this heart like a nursing mother.
Even though it involved getting out of a warm bed in the middle of winter, I treasure the memories I have of nursing my daughter. I held her close to my heart. That experience heightens the joy I feel when listening to Handel’s Messiah–one of my favorite activities during the Christmas season.
“He shall feed his flock” so beautifully expresses the gentleness of God. I like this modern translation of the verse in Isaiah from which the music comes.
“He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young” (Isaiah 40:11 NLT).
Spend some time thinking about these three pictures of God’s affection and tell him which one is most meaningful to you, today.