by Kathleen Petersen

Google revealed the theological term “divine aseity” for exploring the question in my title. 

This term “Divine aseity” intimidates me. I doubt I can explore it to anyone’s satisfaction, including my own. In this fourth down situation (my 400 word limit – along with watching too much playoff football), perhaps I should just punt. But let’s go for it!

The wise members of our devotional team reminded me that God is not an unhealthy, codependent personality who is threatened by our brokenness. With that insight, I’ll begin here.

Shout for joy, you heavens; exult, you earth!
You mountains, break into happy cries!
For Yahweh consoles his people and takes pity on those who are afflicted.
For Zion was saying, ‘Yahweh has abandoned me,
the Lord has forgotten me’.
Does a woman forget her baby at the breast,
or fail to cherish the son of her womb?
Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you.
See, I have branded you on the palms of my hands,
Your ramparts are always under my eye. Isaiah 49:13-16 TJB

This passage compares God’s connection with us to a nursing mother and her child. As an aside, one of the scriptural names of God is “El Shaddai”, which can be translated as “nursing mother God”. To emphasize the permanence of this relationship, the passage adds the excruciatingly painful image of everlasting, seared marks on the palms of the hands that cradle the child.

My takeaway from this passage is that God’s attention to us is deeply caring, sacrificial and permanent.

Also consider these Gospel passages from the earthly life of Jesus describing Jesus weeping over the loss of connection with people who should have embraced him: Luke 13:34–35, Luke 19:41–44, and Matthew 23:37–39. 

Concern for the Nation

As he approached and saw the city, he wept for it, saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days will come on you when your enemies will build a barricade around you, surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you and your children among you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in your midst, because you did not recognize the time when God visited you.” Luke 19:41–44 CSB

Concern for the Person

When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked. “Lord,” they told him, “come and see.”  Jesus wept. John 11:33-35 CSB

The Gospel record depicts Jesus weeping infrequently. However, these passages show us his profound connection with those he considers his own. Let’s return to the question: Does God need us? Maybe we should ask, how do we need God to need us? 

Perhaps God doesn’t “need” humans in a technical sense, but he chose to create us and longs for those he has created to return to him and be eternally in his presence.

Unless we sense God’s constant, tangible presence, we may think he is indifferent to us. Of course God’s care for his children is superior to that of any animal, but read this article about seemingly abandoned baby animals to enhance your perspective on his watchful care/need for you.

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