Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll –
are they not in your record?
- Psalm 56:8
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
- Isaiah 49:16
“God knows you. And he is near you! How far is the shepherd from the sheep (John 10:14)? The branch from the vine (John 15:5)? That’s how far God is from you. He is near. See how these four words look taped to your bathroom mirror: “God is on my side.” (Psalm 56:9)
“And his kingdom needs you. The poor need you; the lonely need you; the church needs you… the cause of God needs you. You are part of the purposes he is working out in the world (Ephesians 1:11). The kingdom needs you to discover and deploy your unique skill. Use it to make much out of God. Get the word out. God is with us; we are not alone.”
- Max Lucado, Cure for the Common Life
God has engraved our names on the palms of His hands. He has either large hands, or He writes really small. My younger son writes so small you almost need a magnifying glass to read it, but it is amazingly legible. Maybe God does too.
And God has a scroll that lists all our tears. Maybe He has upgraded to a flash drive since the days of scrolls when this was written in the Psalms, but the point is, He keeps up with that stuff. In the New Testament, Jesus tells us that our Heavenly Father has numbered the hairs on our heads. Sure, God is all knowing. He doesn’t need to keep a spreadsheet, but I do.
I started a spreadsheet on my reading progress. Someone asked me back in 1993 how much I read, having passed by my cubicle many times, with me reading, even during lunch. I didn’t know how much I read, so I started tracking it. WARNING: Do not ask a rhetorical question to an engineer. He will measure, calculate, and find out the answer to your question that was meant to not be answered. Now, 25+ years later, I have read 2,187 books since then, as of the writing of this post. I started keeping up with pages per day and pages per week. Including work-related reading, I was averaging over 2,000 pages per week when I started (working for NASA at the time with mountains of regulations besides the mountains of technical information – which I was responsible for both). Now, I only track pleasure reading (pages and the number of books, plus a book list to cut down on buying duplicate books) and inspirational reading (that I often reread).
I could go on, because I started creating spreadsheets for everything. I had a new boss once who loved screaming and berating (the usual kind of boss for me, but this guy had more gusto and less of a filter). Actually, I had known the guy for a long time, and we had a history of me being nice to him and he cussing – not liking nice people. On his first assignment for me, he came by my desk an hour after giving me the assignment, and he started screaming that I was working on a spreadsheet instead of doing the project that was supposed to take me two months to complete.
I calmly explained that I always started each project by defining the tasks, creating estimates for task completion, and then dividing that into subtasks, all on a spreadsheet. With the progress calculated against a carefully designed timeline, I would be able to give him accurate information regarding project percentage completion along with progress versus budget, at any moment he might ask.
He fell for my trap by asking, “Okay, wise guy, once you complete this (30 seconds of expletives are hereby deleted) spreadsheet, how far along will you be on the project?”
I beamed with the cheesiest grin that I could muster, “Sir, I will be started!!!”
He said another string of about a minute of expletives, and he didn’t even take a breathe, but he stormed back to his office.
About a month later, with enthusiasm created by the constantly increasing completion percentage of the project on my spreadsheet, I had finished my part of the project, in this case, a 200-page textbook that would then be sent to the printers. Within a couple of days, the project would be totally complete, roughly a month early, half the time that he had estimated, and for an obscene amount of profit.
When I announced my project completion to the boss, he spewed another minute of expletives before he asked, “I was counting on you taking another month to finish. Now what am I going to do with you?”
I replied, again grinning, “I don’t know, Sir, but I am sure that I can create a spreadsheet for it.”
He suggested that I go to a place with a constant extremely hot climate. I didn’t go there, but I did go back to my desk, closing his office door carefully as I left so that his secretary would only hear the muted cusswords.
I have known a lot of people who tracked their progress using spreadsheets. I wasn’t the only one. What I had learned by taking a day for careful planning, I would make up that day easily by avoiding missteps along the way.
So, maybe it isn’t a flippant question to ask if God keeps spreadsheets. He loves us. Even in hard times, He uses those hard times to make us stronger. And, through those hard times, he has a list of every tear.
Most people think that there will be no tears in Heaven, but in Revelation, one statement about God is said twice. He will wipe every tear from our eyes. (Revelation 7:17 and 21:4, also Isaiah 25:8). God has a list. He won’t miss a one, because He loves us that much.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.