We might not always understand what God is doing in our lives, but he’s at work for our good.
Have you ever noticed how little children always want their parents’ attention? Maybe they’re learning to ride a bike and they call out, “Watch me!” There’s something in them that wants Mom or Dad to say, “All right! You’re doing a good job! I saw that—it was wonderful!”
In a sense, this is how we should feel about our Father in heaven. We should be encouraged by the fact that God is paying attention to us.
This can be a litmus test of our relationship with him. If the thought that God is watching you and thinking about you brings joy to your heart, it would be an indication to me that your life probably is right with God.
That isn’t to say that you’re living a flawless life. But it is to say that you take comfort in knowing that God is aware of you constantly.
On the other hand, if the thought that God is watching you and thinking about you terrifies you or gives you cause for great concern, it might be an indication that your life isn’t where it ought to be spiritually.
God knows every thought we think and every word we speak. He sees every act we commit. And he is thinking about us constantly.
David wrote in the Psalms, “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!” (Ps. 139:17–18). It would be a very tedious process to count little grains of sand at the beach. But that is how often God is thinking about us.
Jesus said, “Your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matt. 6:8). God is aware of everything we’re facing in life. He knows about our fears. He knows about our dreams. He knows about the things that frighten us and the things that excite us. He knows everything about us.
In this wonderful Old Testament verse, God says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, … thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11).
Notice he doesn’t say, “I know the thoughts that I have thought toward you.” Though it would be wonderful to think that God has ever thought of me as an individual, it’s more than that. It is not just something he has done in the past; it is something he is doing in the present and will continue to do in the future: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you.”
The question is, how does God think about us? What are his thoughts toward us? We know this: His thoughts toward us may be different than our thoughts toward ourselves. God says in Isaiah, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts. … And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine” (55:8).
When God made that statement to the people of Israel, they were living as captives in Babylon. For them, their world had ended. Everything was over. They thought they had no future. But in the midst of all that, God said, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” They probably thought that God had forgotten them.
Maybe you’re wondering whether God has forgotten you. The principle message God gave to his people is that even though he had disciplined them by allowing them to be taken into captivity in Babylon, he still loved them. He still had a plan and a purpose for their lives. They were being disciplined for their disobedience not because he hated them but because he loved them.
We tend to interpret life by how it’s going at each given moment, by how it looks to us right now. And if it’s a little uncomfortable, if it’s a little difficult, then we falsely conclude that God’s thoughts toward us aren’t good or that he isn’t thinking of us at all.
We see history as it unfolds, but God sees the big picture. Therefore, he knows every thought we think. As the psalmist David wrote, “You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away” (Ps. 139:2).
Even if your family lets you down, even if your friends let you down, know this: God is thinking of you. God is aware of you. God is pulling for you.
As you look at your life, maybe it isn’t going as you expected. It isn’t progressing according to your schedule. You’re thinking, “The Lord must have forgotten about me. The Lord has abandoned me.” No, he has a plan. It isn’t finished yet.
At this moment you may not know what God has in mind for you. But he knows. It would be like watching an artist who is about to start a new painting. The artist paces back and forth, takes out a pencil, and does a couple of broad marks.
Then someone walks up and says, “What’s that?”
The artist explains what it is.
“Well, it doesn’t look like that to me.”
“It’s coming,” the artist replies. “It’s a work in progress. I have an idea here. I have a plan.”
You may be going through various difficulties. You might be facing a financial hardship right now. Perhaps you recently have been betrayed by someone you love. Perhaps you’re facing the loss of a loved one or the loss of your health. You’re thinking, What is happening? Why is God doing this?
He knows what he is doing.
We only see the beginning, but God sees the end from the beginning. “Now we see things imperfectly,” the Bible says, “like puzzling reflections in a mirror” (1 Cor. 13:12). One day it will all come into focus.
This article previously appeared on Greg’s blog.