Eighteen month old baby Jessica was left in the back yard of a Midland, Texas home for just a moment. But that was long enough for her to discover an opening to a well just eight inches in diameter. They located her at the bottom of the well. Her plight was reported on the news and captivated the whole nation. Rescue workers spent 58 hours to get to her by digging a parallel shaft down to where she was. They broke through the wall of the well and finally set her free.
When it was broadcast that she was alive and with her parents, millions of people who had never heard of her before breathed a collective sigh of relief. That happened in 1987, but people still remember the drama and tension of those hours of rescue. Why was there such interest in a little child? Because her life mattered.
Her life was not valuable because of what she had accomplished or because of her family’s fame or because of her financial status. Her life mattered because she was a human being, created in the image of God. Your life matters for the same reason.
Your life matters even if you think you are a failure. It seems as if nothing you have tried has worked out. Others seem to have it together and you feel like you’re falling apart. Perhaps you have failed in certain ways: in morals, in your spiritual walk, in your finances, in your education. You may feel like baby Jessica in that shaft, unable to help yourself, hardly able to even move. Does anybody care? Do you matter?
You matter a lot to God. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). God instituted a rescue operation for all of us. Not just collectively as a race of sinful men, but individually as unique persons. That’s the beauty of the gospel. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
An illiterate old man had been given a tract. He found a lad that was willing to read it to him. When the boy got to the word “whosoever” the old man stopped him. “What does that mean?” he asked. The boy looked at the tract again and then gave his definition.
“It means you and me and everybody else!”
That’s what is great about the gospel. It is for each of us and for all of us. It means that we matter to God as humanity but we also matter to God as persons. God loved the world and whosoever believeth has eternal life. It is universal and individual.
Regardless of your personal failures, your sordid past, your sinful history, God has sent His Son to rescue you. He came all the way down from heaven to earth. Christ died for our sins and was buried. He came all the way to where you are, as deep as you have slipped, and has broken through to right where you are. That’s how much He loved the world and that’s how much He loves you. But there is hope. The rescue mission did not end in the grave. On the third day, He arose! And He can raise you up.
We all want to feel like our lives matter. Yet people struggle with feelings of being worthless or marginalized or no longer of use. An older couple who had been in ministry lamented that where once they were well known and involved, now they are “on the shelf” and a generation that knew not Joseph has taken over. They come and go to their church gatherings almost as strangers in a familiar land. Do their lives even matter anymore?
Parents who have children that have wandered from the path of righteousness wonder if they really matter. What of all their investment in prayer and training? Has it all been for nothing? Pastors in small churches who see little change or growth wonder if they make any difference at all. Their preaching and teaching and visitation and entertaining seem to have been without much effect. Do they even matter?
Solomon wondered if his life mattered. He did not know if the son that came after him would carry on in wisdom or foolishness. “Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun” (Ecc. 2:20). What’s the use of all the effort if it will be squandered by those who follow?
Solomon had a point when you consider the following:
Adam’s son Cain killed his brother.
Noah’s son Ham shamed his father.
Isaac’s son Esau married strange women and his son Jacob was a liar.
Abraham’s son Ishmael mocked his wife Sara and her baby.
Jacob’s sons sold their brother Jacob into slavery and lied about it.
Eli’s sons were openly immoral.
Samuel’s sons were disrespected by the people because of their behavior.
David’s son Absalom killed his brother who had raped his sister.
David’s son Absalom raised an insurrection and ousted David from the throne.
David’s son Solomon married hundreds of women whom the prophet called outrageous.
Solomon’s own son Rehoboam forsook wisdom and instituted policies that resulted in dividing the kingdom.
Solomon’s lament in Ecclesiastes must be tempered by us knowing that he was speaking of things “under the sun” without an eternal perspective. But a greater than Solomon is here and His word tells us that “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name” (Heb. 6:10a).
While we may feel trapped in our present challenges like baby Jessica, unable to move or to help our circumstance, yet remember that He who rescued us as sinners is still at work. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). We can put it this way: if we mattered enough to God while we were His enemies that He sent Jesus to rescue us, we matter much more to Him now since we are His own children.
The fact is that you matter because of who you are, not because of what you have done or what you are doing. If you are retired or bedfast or disabled you still matter. If you feel like you have a poor resume and little to show for all of your labor, you still matter. Even if you have strayed from God and have failed miserably, you still matter. God cares and people care.
Marv, the funeral director in our little Kansas town, called me. “I have a man to bury who has no relative or friend. I hate to put anyone in the ground without someone saying a word. Would you come to the cemetery?” I met him and the gravedigger at the graveside. We three stood beside the casket while I read scripture and prayed. Why did we do it? Because he was a human being and even though friendless, his life mattered.
You matter because you are valuable. The value God put on you is the life of His Son. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20). In other words, don’t waste or demean what God highly values.
Your life matters.