‘Do you really care?’

In Psalm 8, the poet contemplates the uncountable stars which fill the skies and is overwhelmed by their beauty and magnificence. In the face of all this, he cries out to God, ‘What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them.’ (v4) In effect, he’s saying to the creator of the vast universe, in the midst of all this, how could you know, let alone care, that I exist.

You may have felt a bit like that, because of course, it doesn’t always feel as if God does notice us, let alone care about the problems we are facing. As we move through the tougher challenges of life God can often feel remote and uncaring. ‘Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?’ (Psalm 10:1). Yet Psalm 8 is in reality a poem of optimism and confidence. The Psalmist recognises that God does both know and care about mankind. Men and women are ‘crowned with glory and honour,‘ (v5). Even Psalm 10 tells us that  even in those times of trouble, God is there and does care about what’s going on in your life? ‘You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted, you encourage them and you listen to their cry.’ (Psalm 10:17).

In the midst of our very real struggles, we may feel that God is far away, but the message of Scripture, the promise of Scripture, is that he is always there, closer than you could ever imagine. For me, the contemplative path is simply exploring ways of experiencing that closeness. Experiencing the presence of God. Don’t expect a scientific explanation of how it works. Don’t expect irrefutable ‘proof’ that the God of creation has any kind of relationship with His people. It simply isn’t there. But step out on the path of spirituality and you will quickly learn that there is much which is beyond our understanding. It is that very lack of explanation and understanding which means that we need faith. ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ (Hebrews 11:1). Step out in faith on this ancient path, and you will recognise that God is there, in every corner of His ongoing creation, within you, around you and interested in every detail of your life.

Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Family Foundations Trust and is an international coach with CCI Worldwide. He is working out what it might mean to be a contemplative evangelical.