Summary: A sermon that introduces attachment theory. So What question: How do we know that God cares? (Material adapted from Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Joshua Straub's book, God Attachment, chapters 4 through 6)


The Native Americans had a particular way of training young boys to become Indian braves. On the night of a boy’s thirteenth birthday, after learning hunting, scouting, and fishing skills, he was put to one final test. He was placed in a thick forest to spend the entire night alone. Until then, he had never been away from his family and the tribe. But on this night, he was blindfolded and taken several miles away. When he took off the blindfold, he was in the middle of a thick woods and he was scared to death! Every time a twig snapped, he would think that a wild animal was getting ready to pounce. After what seemed like forever, and the sun began to rise the next morning, The boy looked around and then, to his complete amazement, he saw the figure of a man standing just a few feet away, armed with a bow and arrow. It was his father.

And he had been there all night long.


Been alluding to attachment theory in series called God attachment. Let’s give some details...

One of the most basic human needs is to have a secure emotional connection- an attachment-

with those who are closest to us. It is this inborn need, and the fears of loss and isolation that accompany this need, that play a significant role in our lives. Even though this is popular in counseling circles today, in many ways attachment theory is countercultural. Our society likes to emphasize self sufficiency and individualism. These cultural standards are destroying marriages and families. Therefore, in reaction to this many are emphasizing attachment theory.

It used to be that counselors would emphasize the problems with co dependency. Today many are saying that it is against human nature to be completely independent. Now, there is healthy dependence and unhealthy dependence, but to say that the ideal human being is completely independent is a destructive idea to marriage and family.

It starts when we are kids. Studies tells us that when a child is near a loved one their nervous system is soothed. Being near a loved one is a natural antidote to feelings of anxiety or vulnerability. Positive attachments create a safe base that offers a buffer against the effects of stress and uncertainty. Healthy attachment provides a secure base from which a person can explore their world and adequately respond to their environment. Loving attachment provides the confidence necessary to risk, learn, and develop a personality. When relationships offer a sense of security, individuals are better able to reach out and provide support for others and deal with conflict and stress positively.

The building blocks of healthy attachments are emotional accessibility and responsiveness. Emotions are central to attachment. With this idea we can begin to understand some of the extreme emotional responses in marriages and families. Attachment relationships are where our strongest emotions arise and where they have the strongest affect whether for the good or bad. Emotions tell us and communicate to others what our motivations and needs are.

When an individual is threatened, attachment needs make themselves known. A sense of connection with a loved one is what we need the most when times are hard. Attachment is our primary protection against feelings of helplessness and meaninglessness (biblical word).

If our attachment needs are ignored by significant others in our lives, then we protest against them in a number of ways. If our protests are continually ignored, then depression and despair may take over. If needs are left unattended, the relationship will dissolve and the individual will seek out a more secure base. In secure relationships, the needs must be addressed because this is causing anxiety and continual upset.

Attachment issues are based on this question, “Can I depend upon you when I need you?”

When emotional needs are unresolved, there are two basic ways that people cope. One is anxiety where the attachments needs go into overdrive. This person pursues the one with which they need attachment and aggressively try to connect with their loved one. The second way is avoidance. This person denies that they have needs. They need to grow up and ignore emotions. They need to just “put up and shut up.” These two basic strategies, anxious pursuing or detached avoidance, can develop into habitual ways to deal with significant others. We often see this in a marital relationship. The wife is the one who anxiously pursues, goes into overdrive, to see that her needs are met. The husband feels like she is nagging him, and so he begins to practice avoidance. In essence he denies his feelings and believes he can go it alone.

Many say that attachment trauma begins in childhood. When we experience the trauma of deprivation, loss, rejection, and abandonment by our parents, this has an enormous affect upon all of us. We all experience this in some form or another. How we deal with that has a lasting impact upon all of our significant relationships in our future. Our parents fail us. Sure, some parents do a better job than others, but in some way all of our parents fail to meet our attachment needs. My mother is here so have to give this disclaimer. Also, my children will probably be in some counselors office someday and talk about what a bad parent I was.

Remember when we were kids and we played hide and seek. Often in hide and seek there is home base. Home base might be a bench, or a post, or a picnic table; and the best base is usually one that is out in the open, close to some adults. There’s something comforting about being able to see and touch Mom or Dad.

Even as adults, we seek such a place of refuge. Attachment theory in essence is saying that we need a secure home base to do well in life. “But my parents were jerks, so there is no hope for me!” I have some good news, we can change. “Where do I begin?” Let’s begin where we have begun this whole series, God! Need to establish a healthy attachment to God! God needs to be our safe and secure base in life. The Bible is unashamed about our relationship with God. God is our Father; we are His children. In fact, God is identified as our Father 265 times in scripture. Most of those are found in the New Testament because through Christ, we have a new identity as an adopted child of God. However, for some, the idea of father is so distorted that they have a hard time. Think of it this way, God is our safe and secure base in life.

Started with David, let’s see what he has to say: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” Psalms 27:10, NIV.

“Look to my right and see; no-one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no-one cares for my life.” Psalms 142:4, NIV. But David goes on to say: “I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”” Psalms 142:5, NIV. The word "refuge" normally refers to the den or lair of a wild animal of the desert, and for that animal it is a place of protection: - protection from the heat of the sun; - protection from the sudden flash floods of the desert; - protection from the constant dangers of other predators. It was a haven. It is what we would call a home. Go back and read Psalm 142:4-5 inserting "home" for the word refuge.

Human help fails most when it is most needed. In outward troubles: "I looked." In soul troubles: "No man cares for my life." God’s help is given when most needed. A refuge (a safe and secure place) and a portion when all others fail. We have many friends in prosperity, one only in adversity.

Thesis: How do we know that God cares?

For instances:

I. GOD CARES... Proven by:

The Plan He presented...Substitutional death of his Son

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5, NIV.

The Price He paid...Shed blood of his Son-

“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.” Romans 3:25, NIV.

The Pardon He produces...Secured only thru his Son

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10, NIV.


His Descending from the throne...Phil. 2:5-7

“Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:5-7, NIV.

His Dying on the tree...Phil. 2:8

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8, NIV.

His Defeat of the devil and death...Heb. 2:14-15

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14, 15, NIV.


Their praying for you

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you ” Colossians 1:9, NIV.

Their preaching to you

“God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you” Romans 1:9, NIV.

We should consider the church our second family.

Even so, the church will fail us from time to time. However, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7, NIV. God is that safe and secure base that we need.

Getting back to that young Indian boy. God is there all the time!

“God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:27, NIV.