I’ve been a Christian for nearly 45 years. Like many of you, my walk with the Lord has been a journey. There have been many ups and downs. There have been times when I was on the mountain top and other times when I was in the valley. There have been times when I was very close to God and other times when I felt very far away.
When I think about my personal relationship with God, some of the greatest verses of scripture that I have ever discovered come from Psalm 103
Psalm 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
These verses have always been special to me, but even more so lately. I can’t tell you how much I thought about them last weekend as we were in the hospital with Cindy. God understands that we’re not God. He never forgets that we are His creatures, made out of the dust of the ground, and desperately in need of His help and strength.
I have asked for permission to use what Jeremiah wrote on Cindy’s blog –
Watching my wife have seizures and stop breathing en route to the hospital brought me to a point of desperation I can never fully explain. Sometimes God takes His children up to the edge of something terrible or seemingly unbearable and He asks us, “Do you trust me?”
It’s not your job to understand why you are in this storm; it’s not your place to find the answer to every problem; and it is not within your ability to rescue yourself or others from every danger. Son, you cannot solve every problem. You cannot overcome every obstacle, and you cannot weather every storm. But I can.
If I can protect Daniel from certain death, if I can walk Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through a fire, and if I can bring Lazarus back to life; I can deliver you from this storm. If I can give sight to the blind, if I can heal any disease, and cure any addiction, I can deliver you from this storm. But even if I don’t, I will give you a peace that few people will ever understand and I will never leave you. Trust me, I will never leave you.
Now, you must pass through this storm to understand. If you want to see what I have to show you, you must experience the storm. You can’t dodge it. You can’t run from it. You can’t hide from it. Do you trust me?
I have chosen this path for you so that you may glorify Me. Do you trust Me? When you reach the worst part of the storm, when you are overcome with fear, and you have tried everything you can think of to save your wife, call out to Me. Cry out for Me! Desperately call for me! And I will hear you. Then you will understand. Then you will see what I have wanted to show you. Then you will know that I am God and you are not. Then you will remember that I created you for my glory. Then you will remember that the path I have put you on has a purpose.”
I want you to live each day remembering that it is not just in the midst of a deadly storm that you are in desperate for my help- it is every moment of every day. Life is held in My hands.”
Those last few words remind me of the prayer I prayed as Tammy and got in the car to go to Chattanooga. We had no idea of what was before us but the Lord led me to pray – “Our lives are in Your hands.”
Being in God’s hands is the best place to be. The Bible teaches us that God understands our needs and weaknesses and that He cares.
Psalm 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;
The Bible says that God ‘pities’ those who fear Him. The word pity is an important word. It means to love very deeply and to have tender affection. Sometimes it is translated in the New Testament as ‘tenderhearted.’ The Bible teaches us that God is tenderhearted towards His people. God is full of pity for those who are hurting. He never forgets that we are made of dust and that we are weak and God pities us in our need.
I. God Has a Tender Heart That Understands Us
God knows all there is to know about us. We can’t hide anything from Him. What’s more, God understands us. Perhaps God understands us better than we sometimes understand ourselves. A wonderful passage of scripture concerning this truth comes from the book of Hebrews-
Hebrews 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted , he is able to succour them that are tempted .
God not only has sympathy for those in need; He has empathy. To empathize with someone is to understand what they are feeling because you have felt it yourself. You have suffered in a very similar way. You know what it is like.
Through the birth of Jesus Christ, God became a man. As a man, Jesus suffered in all the ways you and I suffer. He not only sympathizes with us in our need, He empathizes with us. The Bible says that Jesus is affected whenever one of His children are afflicted. In other words, God doesn’t say “I know that this must hurt you.” God says, “I know that this hurts you because it hurts Me also.” What love!
A. God Understands That We Are Weak Physically
God understands the weaknesses of the human body. He understands what it is like to become tired and weary. He understands hunger and thirst. He also understands pain and suffering.
B. God Understands That We Are Weak Emotionally
God also understands that we are weak emotionally. The shortest verse in the Bible is incredibly important. It simply says – “Jesus wept.” (Jn 11:35)
It was at the grave side of a loved one that Jesus wept. A close friend named Lazarus had died and the Bible says that as Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus – Jesus wept. Why did Jesus weep? The Bible doesn’t give us an answer so therefore we can only speculate.
Perhaps Jesus wept because He was saddened over the sadness of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. Perhaps Jesus wept because He was saddened over the fact that they didn’t understand that He was the resurrection and the life. Perhaps He was saddened because Lazarus’ death was a strong reminder of what sin has done to God’s creation. Perhaps He wept because, although He was God, He was now also man. Perhaps for a moment He felt that pain in His heart that we feel when we have a loved one to die.
Down through the years I have been at a lot of funerals. Oftentimes I have heard another pastor refer to a funeral as a ‘Celebration of the home-going of such and such.’ Just between us, I cringe a little bit whenever I hear that. I understand what they are saying and why they are saying it. If this person was a Christian, then death was absence from the body and presence with the Lord. No doubt they celebrate once they step on heaven’s shores. I know I sure will. But what about those left behind? How does a child celebrate the death of a parent, or a spouse their mate, or a parent their child? Though they may be thankful that their loved one had the opportunity to go to heaven, at that moment they’re not celebrating. They are mourning the loss of someone they love dearly. There is a void in their life that is so big that it sometimes produces an almost unbearable amount of pain.
We need to keep in mind what the Bible says about mourning and grieving-
Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die… 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
The Bible says –
Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
Someone’s death is very special to God. On the one hand there is joy in heaven as this dear child is welcomed home. Yet, on the other hand, there is a sense of sadness because Christ understands what it is like to stand at someone’s graveside and weep.
C. God Understands That We Are Weak Spiritually
Psalm 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
God understands that we are weak spiritually. The Bible says in the book of Hebrews that Jesus was tempted in all the ways we are tempted. Though He Himself never sinned, He understands the power of temptation. It is for this reason that He is able to be a faithful and understanding High Priest.
II. God Has a Tender Heart That Pities Us
Psalm 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
The Bible tells us that God has pity for those who need Him and fear Him. The word pity is sometimes translated in the New Testament as ‘tenderhearted.’ God has a tender heart for the hurting.
A. God Has Pity For Our Physical Needs
Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
Though we know that Christ’s primary purpose for coming to earth had to do with our spiritual needs, it is good to know that He is concerned with the physical as well. He remembers that our frames are but dust and therefore need a lot of maintenance.
B. God Has Pity For Our Emotional Needs
God also knows that we have emotional needs. God created us with such needs and He understands how sometimes our emotions go haywire. God doesn’t say – “Grow up! Get a grip!” God cares for and comforts His children when they are hurting. Consider these sweet words from 2 Corinthians –
2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation…
The word ‘comfort’ means to come alongside of someone who is needy and to give them assistance. God doesn’t abandon us during our times of emotional distress. Through His Holy Spirit and the body of Christ, God comes alongside of His children and gives them the support they need. Recently that has been revealed to me in such a powerful way.
I think that everyone in my family could testify that they felt God’s presence in a very real and powerful way. You knew that you were in the midst of something much bigger than yourself.
We were comforted by God’s presence and we were comforted by your prayers. You’ll never know how much it meant to us to know that you were praying so fervently for us. About two-thirds of the way down to Chattanooga, Jeremiah called me and began to give me some of the details of what was happening. I thought about it for a moment and then I decided to call Pastor Zack and to ask him to ask you to pray. At first I thought, “You don’t need to bother them. This is your problem. They have enough of their own to worry about.” But then I realized that we couldn’t handle this alone. We needed others to stand with us and to pray. Thank you to everyone who said a prayer on our behalf. Thank you to those of you who did business with God. Thank you for your fervent, agonizing prayers for us. God heard your prayers and performed miracles!
C. God Has Pity For Our Spiritual Needs
Psalm 103:10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
There are two words often used in scripture to describe God’s care for His children. They are: Mercy and Grace. I have been told that:
- Mercy is God not giving to us what we deserve. What do we deserve? As sinners, we deserve God’s divine justice which means judgment. Yet God is merciful and therefore withholds from us such divine justice. How is God able to be just and yet withhold justice?
- Grace is God giving to us what we don’t deserve. What do we not deserve? We do not deserve God’s mercy and forgiveness. We do not deserve His grace. We do not deserve God’s goodness. We do not deserve a home in heaven. Yet we receive all of this because God is gracious.
The Bible tells us in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” People do not go to heaven because they are good. People go to heaven because God is gracious and through His grace He has made a way for us to be forgiven. The Bible says that Christ died for our sins.
III. God Has a Tender Heart That Desires to Help Us
Two thousand years ago God did something amazing. Jesus left the glories of heaven so that He might come to this earth and become a man. Why did Jesus do this?
For one thing, we must remember that God made us. We are the most important part of His creation. God created us in His own image. Friend, God loves you.
Jesus did what He did because He wants to help us. God knew that there was no other way for man to be forgiven than for God Himself to become a man and therefore offer up a perfect sacrifice.
Jesus did what He did because He wants to restore us back to fellowship with Himself. As some have said, ‘Jesus would rather die than live without us.’ Jesus went to the cross because He desperately wants us to know Him and to have fellowship with Him.
My friend, God loves you. He understands what it is like to be a human.