Ah, that age old question; If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? I have heard that quote more times than I can count, but never knew who had first said it nor gave it any great thought. The question was raised by George Berkeley, an Irish born philosopher and Anglican bishop. He was making the argument that in order for an object 'to be' it means it has been perceived. In fact he went so far as to state that even if man did not hear or see, that God did and that gave the thing in question existence.
Many say that the three items that humans need in order to survive are water, food and shelter. And those are three very important things necessary to our survival. But I propose there is something else just as important, maybe even more important in order for us not only to survive, but to thrive. As humans we have the basic need for acknowledgment. We need to feel that we are recognized, that we are valued, that we have worth. We want to feel that we not only exist, but that we are perceived by others; that we are known, that we are recognized and that we are understood. That we are not alone in this world. That phrase 'no man is an island' is very apropos.
I remember that for years I felt that I just existed, that I was not 'perceived' by anyone. That my day to day routine went unnoticed and that no one really cared. I have shared before the dysfunction that I grew up in. I craved affirmation. Because I felt that I had no value, that I was worthless, I got involved with things and people that I should not have. I would do anything to feel the warmth of human contact, even if it was only temporary. That is how strong a person's need for acknowledgment and recognition is. That is how strong a person's need to feel something, anything is. At that point, even feeling pain qualified.
It wasn't until years later, looking back on my life that I realized I was never truly alone. That there had been 'Someone' there that whole time, even though I had not perceived it. I see now, in retrospect that the God who made me, who loved me before my very existence here on earth was with me all along. That just because I didn't perceive Him that didn't mean that He wasn't there. I can look back and see little signs that He was there. Little kindnesses done by others. Experiences that cannot be explained away. Little insights into the heavenly realm that I only now can understand and appreciate. I cannot tell you why I went through what I did, or why others go through hardships and grief and pain. All I can say is that there is a God, a great loving God who is there and who is also just waiting to be acknowledged. He desires to have relationship with us. He desires to be perceived by us. The difference though is that He is and He exists apart from our perception. He is and was and always will be. He just desires that we would take part in His great plan for us, to be a part of the amazing adventure called life that He has set before us.
See, the thing about us humans is that we not only buy into that premise called 'seeing is believing', we also consider it true, feeling is believing. We could not be more inaccurate. Our feelings are fickle, unpredictable and often arbitrary. There are days where my feelings are all over the place. Worry, fear, anger, frustration and then happiness, delight and elation. And that's just ten minutes in my day! I have come to learn that even when my earthly eyes don't perceive God, that He is there and He is faithful. That even when I don't 'feel' Him, He is a very present help, the only constant in my life.
Just like that tree in the forest, with it's trunk, it's branches, it's leaves; that tree that does make a sound when it falls, a sound that God hears even when there is not a human to be seen, He created us also. Wonderfully and fearfully made the scriptures say. He made us, unique and beautiful. Intricate and elaborate. Exquisite and remarkable. So it goes without saying that if He hears that tree fall, and if He cares for the bird that rests in that tree, how much more He cares for us. And like that bird that nests in the tree, that bird that cares for it's young, He cares for us. There are many scripture references that speak of Him as that bird providing safe haven for it's young. Psalm 91:4, "under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark." Psalm 36:7, "How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings." Psalm 57:1, "Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge." Psalm 63:7, "
For you have been my help and in that shadow of your wings I sing for joy."
He is our haven, our refuge, our place of safety, our home. And as comforting as it is for us to know that He hears that tree when it falls even though no one else is there, that tree has no knowledge of that. We are not that tree. We, as Christians have that knowledge of Him. We know that He loves us. That His father's heart cares for us. That no matter the circumstances that He is always there for us, that He always hears us. The next time you feel alone, the next time you feel that no one is there to hear you when you fall, know that He is there. That He is there and that He not only perceives you, but that He loves you and will hold you through it all.
Information on George Berkeley found on brittanica.com