My friend Michael sent me an excerpt from A.W. Tozer’s book, A Disruptive Faith: Expect God to Interrupt Your Life.
I thought I’d read pretty much everything Tozer wrote, but this one was new to me. When people called him a “prophet,” Tozer responded, “Well, maybe a Minor Prophet.” He told it like it is and then tried to tell it and live it in such a way as to change what it’s like. That’s what prophets do. This article sort of runs along a similar stream of my simple thoughts on God’s pain (God hurts too…). His article is called, “Fixed in God’s Mind.” I underlined the portions that speak to the pain in God’s heart.
The word “mindful,” in the question, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” implies that man is a fixture in God’s mind and comes to His remembrance continually. God’s weakness for mankind is the only eccentricity of our great God, and I say that with a great deal of reverence. I can understand why God did most everything that I know He did. It is easy to see why He might do some things, but it is extremely difficult to understand why God should love mankind and why man should be such a fixture in God’s mind. It is one of the strangest phenomena in the universe. Associated with this is God’s inability to shake off His burden for the human race. Although self-imposed, this burden is no less a burden. Mankind fixed in God’s mind is as a nail driven into hard wood, and God cannot escape it. I do not know that God wants to escape it, but I know that the nature of God is such that He cannot escape it. God’s love for mankind is a hurt – a wound of the heart. Man’s treachery has deeply wounded Him, but He is caught in the sweet and painful meshes of His own love. He is impaled, so to speak, on the point of His own great love for mankind. I believe this is true. I believe it in my living, in my preaching, in my prayers. I believe that it can be said of man, “God is mindful of him.” Just as a mother is mindful of a child, God is mindful of man, only infinitely more, for it’s possible for a mother to forsake and forget her child. Usually, a mother’s love will last; but sometimes even a mother’s love gives way. But the love of God is such that it can never end. God remains caught in the web of His own mighty love. Man, with all of his treachery, all of his sinfulness, imprudence and evil, remains a fixture in the mind of God. Man is God’s image, pride, responsibility and problem. He is all this. God does not sleep, but I am sure that if He slept, He could not sleep because He is haunted by the treachery of man and caught in the web of His love for man and His pride in man. He feels himself responsible for man, though certainly there can be no moral responsibility. Man forfeited all that when he sinned. Yet God takes on Himself the responsibility.
In my first two posts on how God hurts I talked about his free will experiment having put him in this painful predicament, and then how, when we suffer, he suffers. Here, Tozer points out that his love for us is a hurt, a wound in his heart. If you’ve ever loved someone who didn’t love you back, you know something of what this hurt feels like. If we, made in his image, feel such emotions, why not him – times, what, seven billion?! I wonder if “impaled on the point of His own great love for mankind” is not too strong a language for how our prodigal Father feels.
It occurs to me that, with our choices we have the power to give God pain or pleasure. It reminds me of a story of a father whose daughter had been told that if she was bad he wouldn’t love her anymore. With tears trickling down her face, she ran into his arms and asked him if he still loved her even though she’d been bad. He knelt down, looked her in the eyes and said, “Sweetheart, when you’re good I love you with a love that makes me glad and when you’re acting badly I love you with a love that makes me sad. But I always love you!”
My goal is to love him with a love that makes him glad. And if he ever did decide to sleep, I would want to give him every reason to rest easy!