Do You Really Count With God?
AT NIGHT, have you ever paused to look out at the universe? Have you ever wondered how far out into space you are actually peering, or how many stars you can see with the naked eye? Then, overwhelmed by the vast majesty of the heavens, have you ever asked yourself, Does insignificant man really count with God? Is God in fact concerned about me as an individual?
Three thousand years ago the Hebrew poet-king David of Judah expressed amazement in the following words: “When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have prepared, what is mortal man that you keep him in mind, and the son of earthling man that you take care of him?” (Psalm 8:3, 4) Yes, even though David did not realize it, with his naked eye he was peering into the universe a distance of some 600,000 light-years.a He was impressed that the Creator of that vast expanse should also take man into account.
David expressed a parallel thought in Psalm 144, where we read: “O Jehovah, what is man that you should notice him, the son of mortal man that you should take account of him? Man himself bears resemblance to a mere exhalation; his days are like a passing shadow.” (Ps 144 Verses 3, 4) Yet, in spite of man’s comparative insignificance and transience, David knew that man does count with God. How could he be sure of that? Because he himself had developed a personal relationship with Jehovah.
What Kind of Relationship Is Possible?
How do we know that David had a personal relationship with God? A quick glance at any of David’s psalms, or poetic songs, should be enough to convince us of that. For example, let us take Psalm 23 and, through its simply expressed words, try to perceive the implicit confidence David had in his Shepherd, Jehovah God.
“Jehovah is my Shepherd.
I shall lack nothing.
In grassy pastures he makes me lie down;
By well-watered resting-places he conducts me.
My soul he refreshes.
He leads me in the tracks of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the valley of deep shadow,
I fear nothing bad,
For you are with me;
Your rod and your staff are the things that comfort me.”—Ps 23 Verses 1-4.
Here, the depth of David’s relationship with God shines through with clarity. How does that psalm affect you? Do you recognize the bridge of trust between the defenseless “sheep” David and his protective Shepherd, Jehovah? Without a doubt, David was conscious of the fact that although man resembles “a mere exhalation,” he personally did count with his God and Shepherd. Therefore, David could say with conviction: “Jehovah is my Shepherd. I shall lack nothing.” Now, how can you achieve the same confidence, the same trust?
To begin with there is one vital point we cannot overlook. It is not just a matter of the shepherd’s taking an interest in his sheep. The sheep also have to follow their shepherd and give heed to his voice. In other words, if we want to count with God we must also count on God ourselves. If sheep flee the fold or reject the shepherd, then protection is lost. The relationship is ruined by the sheep’s own deliberate waywardness. In spite of man’s history in this respect, God has shown concern for mankind, not only as a group but also as individuals. What evidence do we have for saying this?
Since When Has Man Mattered to God?
From the very beginning of human history, Jehovah has manifested concern for mankind and its future. When selfish rebellion broke out in Eden, God did not abandon the human family and leave them without hope. He promised a future “seed” that would take action against man’s chief enemy and bring relief by bruising Satan’s head. (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20) Thereafter Jehovah continued to deal with mankind, at times as individuals and on other occasions as nations.
A clear example of Jehovah’s concern for the individual in ancient Israel was the law that made provision for orphans and widows, the destitute of the nation. For example, it specified that they were to have a part in the harvest even though they were without land. They were granted gleaning rights in the reaped fields. How superior that was to many welfare arrangements that exist in nations today! In Israel the individual retained his self-respect in spite of his poverty. Why? Because he did not have to beg or await a State-financed handout. With his own hands he gleaned for his needs. He did useful work and felt grateful to his bountiful God, Jehovah.—Leviticus 19:9, 10; Ruth, chapter 2.
Did Christ Highlight His Father’s Care?
The four Gospels make it clear that Jesus Christ cared for people. And since he exactly reflected his Father’s qualities, his concern was a clear evidence that man does count with God. (John 14:9) Christ’s teaching contained loving and practical guidelines for unselfish living. How clearly that was illustrated when his disciples returned tired and exhausted from a preaching campaign! What was his reaction? It was one of compassion and consideration. Jesus understood their feelings, their need for a break. “He said to them: ‘Come, you yourselves, privately into a lonely place and rest up a bit.’ For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure time even to eat a meal.” So they all went off in a boat to a lonely spot for a change of pace.
But the crowd followed them. How did Jesus react to that? With impatience and anger? “Well, on getting out [of the boat], he saw a great crowd, but he was moved with pity for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. And he started to teach them many things.”—Mark 6:30-34.
How clearly Christ reflected his Father’s concern for people! He also highlighted this when he said: “Five sparrows sell for two coins of small value, do they not? Yet not one of them goes forgotten before God. But even the hairs of your heads are all numbered. Have no fear; you are worth more than many sparrows.”—Luke 12:6, 7.
Certainly, in God’s sight the person who seeks to follow Jesus Christ is not lost in the crowd. But the important point is, Do you actively seek to follow Jesus Christ? Are you conscious of your spiritual need in that respect? (Matthew 5:3) Remember, shortly before his arrest and subsequent death Jesus prayed to his Father: “I make request, not concerning these only [the 11 faithful apostles who shared his last supper with him], but also concerning those [other disciples] putting faith in me through their word.” (John 17:20) Jesus knew that not only would his apostles count with God but so would those who later became believers on the basis of their preaching. That indicates that the Great Shepherd, Jehovah God, is accessible to all those who manifest the humble disposition of sheep.—Psalm 23:1.
Does Man Count With God Today?
But now you may ask, ‘If man really does count with God, how is that evident today? And how can I benefit from God’s concern for mankind?’
Today Jehovah, the Great Shepherd, has made provision for sheeplike persons throughout the world to hear his voice. How has he done this? Jesus answers: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” Thus, Jehovah is drawing people of humble heart toward himself through his appointed “fine shepherd,” Jesus Christ.—John 6:44; 10:11, 14-16.
How is that drawing work being accomplished? By the preaching activity of the faithful followers of Christ who are witnesses of the true God, Jehovah, even as Jesus was. Yes, the Christian witnesses of Jehovah are preaching wherever people are to be found. Freely, they are offering individual attention to anyone who desires to know God. If you have not already done so, are you willing to take your first step toward developing a personal relationship with the Great Shepherd, Jehovah? Are you willing to seek God through Jesus Christ? Remember Jesus’ exhortation: “Keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.” By sending his Son to earth in our behalf, the Great Shepherd has already taken the first positive step toward you. If you respond, you will soon discover for yourself that man does count with God.—Matthew 7:7; 1 John 4:7-10.
Does Man’s Future Count With God?
The fact that man’s existence is compared to an exhalation, to a mere breath, indicates how brief man’s life span is. Yet, how long would you really like to live if you could enjoy perfect health and happiness? Did you say, “Forever”? Well, Jehovah has promised just that—everlasting life on a paradise earth. Thus, in the apostle Paul’s letter to Titus, we read about “a hope of the everlasting life which God, who cannot lie, promised before times long lasting.” (Titus 1:2) Based on that same promise, Paul offered counsel to others “to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.” That “real life” leads on to everlasting life.—1 Timothy 6:17-19.
Do the Dead Count With God?
‘But,’ you may ask, ‘what about the dead? Do they count with the Great Shepherd?’ They certainly do! That is why the apostle Paul “was declaring the good news of Jesus and the resurrection.” (Acts 17:18) Surely, the resurrection is an outstanding example of Jehovah’s concern for the individual. Why so? Because it shows that He has kept a record, down to the most minute detail, of the personality of those who are to be restored to life. The Supreme Controller of the universe, with its millions of galaxies and stars, is undaunted by the need to recall all that personality data and to imprint it in a recreated brain and heart. Little wonder that Jesus proclaimed with conviction: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his [Jesus’] voice and come out.”—John 5:28, 29.
If you wish to be taken into account by the Great Shepherd, Jehovah, through his Son, Jesus Christ, do not hesitate to ask Jehovah’s Witnesses to help you. In the privacy of your own home you can ask any Bible questions you desire and be assured of reasonable answers. Or you can write to this magazine’s publishers who will help you to prove conclusively for yourself that you can really count with God now and in the future.
a A light-year is the distance light travels in a year at a speed of 186,281 miles (299,338 km) per second. This amounts to 5,878,000,000,000 miles (9,460,000,000,000 km), the distance light travels in a year. Of course, the universe is much more extensive than the limited view of man’s naked eye.
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Is God concerned about us?
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The Great Shepherd lovingly cares for all his “sheep”