“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7–11 ESV)
When my daughter came to my wife and I and told us she had nightmares, we encouraged her to pray. She resisted, saying, “Jesus doesn’t care about my nightmares.”
As a pastor, I find that many people have a hard time truly believing that God is gracious and generous. I find myself thinking of God like this as well. Like the lazy and wicked servant who buried his single talent in the ground and accused his master of being cruel and harsh (Matthew 25:24), our default is to view God as infinitely able, yet practically unwilling or as overflowing in kindness, yet easily annoyed and frustrated.
But this is not how Scripture reveals him. Contrary to popular opinion, the Old Testament shows us that God is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and truth (Exodus 34:6-7). God’s loving care for idolatrous and adulterous Israel is the shocking story of the Old Testament historical books. Rather than forsake them, he lovingly disciplines and forgives them.
Meanwhile, the prophetic books proclaimed the promise of the Savior who will forgive our sins and the promise of the Holy Spirit who will give us new hearts. Every page of the Old Testament drips with his grace, his love, his goodness, and his generosity.
Then, the New Testament declares that God has been faithful to all of his promises. For all the promises of God find their YES in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord has made have failed; all have come to pass (Joshua 21:45). Jesus is the key. He alone is worthy to fulfill God’s promises and unlock his good purposes for his people (Revelation 5:5-7). By his shed blood (Hebrews 9:12) and by the power of an indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16) it is finished (John 19:30).
If God has gone to such great lengths to give us his promises and purposes, then why would he give us rocks when we ask for bread or snakes when we ask for fish? Why would he not care about our nightmares or our fears and worries? Why would God not hear or care about our prayers for our unbelieving friend? Why would God not care about our needs, whatever they might be?
What in Scripture would give us reason to believe that God is cruel towards his children and does not care about them?
This sort of belief that God does not care and that God is cruel is really unbelief. It is a lack of faith in God’s revealed nature and character in Scripture. It is also pride. It is impossible to accuse God of not caring without asserting ourselves over God. To accuse God of being uncaring or cruel is to judge God according to our wisdom rather than believing his Word.
Satan loves when we trust in our own wisdom or his wisdom rather than God’s. He wants us to believe that God is cruel and uncaring. He wants us to see prayer as foolishness and his Word as primitive. He wants us be sure of ourselves and to question God. He loves to deceive us in the fog of pride and unbelief.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:6-11).