Summary: What are the implications if no one cares about the dillusioned, the desperate, or those who have made poor decisions? What if no one cares for the soul, the essence, of others?
He had been running so long and so hard. Running from everything. What an irony that he of all people had had to flee for his very life! He had been on the upswing, he had been successful in everything. He had been the fair-haired lad in the eyes of those who counted, and had even married into the most prominent family in the land. Everything had gone so well; his life and his career seemed charmed.
But now, here he was, holed up in a dank, dark cave, wondering how it had all gone south so badly, so quickly. One day he had been consulted about everything; the next day he was persona non grata. Last week he had been the favorite son-in-law and the bosom buddy of his wife’s brother; this week the old man, their father, was out to get him, with blood in his eye and malice in his heart. How in the world did this happen? How could this be?
The obvious explanation was that the old boy had lost it. Jealousy and anxiety had taken him over, and he was lashing out at everyone. Word was that he had even tried to destroy his own son, and that he had ordered the dispatch of some eighty-five leaders whom he did not trust. The old man was obviously a victim of paranoia.
But a psychological analysis, however accurate, was of cold comfort right now. David sat in the cave of Engedi and could do little more than offer a complaint. Saul’s madness, coupled with the king’s command over his army, made David’s life precarious indeed. He thought about all the people who had been close – his wife Michal, his friend Jonathan, his comrades in arms. Where were they now? What were they doing to help? He had looked to the right and to the left, and found himself alone. He had searched the horizon for refuge, only to find himself utterly isolated. Completely alone. David knew only to pray, even if his prayer was one of complaint. David believed that at least God knew, God would be his refuge, God his strength. In that dismal moment, David had concluded, “No one cares for my soul.”
What is it like when no one cares? What is it like to live and die so utterly alone that it seems that no one cares? And, most profoundly, what must it be like when no one cares for your soul, for your essence, for your standing before God? What must that be like?
For the last several Sundays we have been thinking about the theme, “What’s Worth Caring About Here?” Pastor Hagan and I have preached messages that challenged you to rethink the importance of this church. We invited you to share something that you love about this place. As a relative outsider, I found those answers to be powerfully instructive. You value many things, one of which is the fellowship you have with many races, nations, and languages. You value this diverse fellowship; it’s worth caring about.
We also invited you to share the name of someone who had helped you, someone who had guided or strengthened you in your spiritual walk. You know what? There were no cards turned in that said, “Nobody has done anything for me.” With only a minimum of effort, you remembered how your long-term pastor had spoken to you or how your Sunday School teacher had listened to you. You recalled with ease how, rubbing elbows with another choir member or going on a mission trip with a young person, you had discovered someone of special value, worth caring about.
Last week the challenge deepened, as we opened up our dreams to one another. That is getting rather personal, as dreams really do not focus on buildings or programs or ideas, but on heart-things, spiritual desires. The flavor of last Sunday, from the music to the testimony to the message, was that we must dream a larger dream, a dream that takes us outside these walls and into this community, with all its problems and all its joys. This town, this Gaithersburg, is worth caring about.
But, in the end, faith is a profoundly personal matter. People do not respond at their core to programs or buildings or pastors or music ministries or reputation or denomination. All of those things are important, and all must be attended to; but it is in the dark nights of the soul where we deal with God. It is in the caves of desperation, like the one where David hid, that we face the terrible truths about ourselves. And it is in those difficult, damning, destructive caverns that some wake up and complain, “No one cares for my soul”.
What if they are right? What if no one cares for the souls of men and women in this world? What if? There are several implications to explore.