The question in the New Era, the youth magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to be answered in the February issue, is: “If Heavenly Father has so many children, how can He know me personally and care about me?” Because the New Era prints the responses of the youth, and is unlikely to print the thoughts of an adult, I’m printing my answer here.
1. Our Heavenly Father is the Creator and Father of our spirits, and loves each of us as a perfect parent loves his or her child.
God is our Father, and created us individually as His spirit children (Acts 17:28–20; Bible Dictionary, “God”). In Isaiah 49:15, God compares His love to that of a mother for her child—and says that even if a mother could forget her child, “yet I will not forget thee.” We are the reason for the creation of the universe and of our planet Earth, as the Lord stated, “This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Even if it can be difficult for earthly parents to know each of their children, pay attention to them, and even sometimes to love them as they need, these things are not difficult for our all-knowing, all-powerful Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
2. Our Heavenly Father is not limited by time, as we are.
While it is probably impossible for us to understand the physics and physiology of Godhood, we do know that our thoughts are not like Heavenly Father’s thoughts. “My ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,” He taught the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 55:8–9). We know that God is not limited by linear time, as we are and must be in order be tested in our mortal lives (Abraham 3:24–25). Somehow, “all things are present to God” (Moses 1:6)—“all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto man” (Alma 40:8). What this means is that, unlike us (1), Heavenly Father is able to think about and do more than one thing at a time. The Christian theologian C. S. Lewis taught this principle (2):
Our life comes to us moment by moment. One moment disappears before the next comes along: and there is room for very little in each. That is what Time is like. … Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirty—and every other moment from the beginning of the world—is always the Present for Him. … He has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only [person] in the world.
Because He is able to see, think about, and work with all of His children as individuals in their own time and place, Heavenly Father is able to know and love each of us.
3. Our Heavenly Father works with us one by one.
It is an important principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ that the Lord works with us, and we should work with each other, one by one. When the Savior came to the Book of Mormon people after His Resurrection, He called them forth one by one, even though there were 2,500 people in the congregation (3 Nephi 17:25), so that they could know that He was the Messiah. This individual experience with the Savior was so moving that the people cried, “Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him” (3 Nephi 11:13–17). He also blessed and prayed for their children, “one by one” (3 Nephi 17:21). “Certainly there is a profound and tender message here,” Elder Ronald A. Rasband taught. “Jesus Christ ministers to, and love us all, one by one” (3).
Similarly, when we go to the temple to perform sacred ordinances for those who have passed away, we perform the ordinances for each individual, one at a time. Each of us is so important that we are offered the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and may choose to accept it, only as an individual. Elder M. Russell Ballard taught that the Atonement “is infinite and eternal, and yet it is applied individually, one person at a time” (4).
How does Heavenly Father know and care about you, when there are so many of us? How can He know each of us personally? Because He is the Almighty God, and the rules of physics and time that we are bound by do not bind Him. He loves each of us as our tender parent, as His precious son or daughter. When you turn to Him in prayer, He is present for you as though He were kneeling beside you, ready to listen, comfort, and bless you. You are His beloved child. Just as you desire your own experience with Him, He desires His own experience with you. As Saint Augustine taught (5),
“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”
1. See Sanjay Gupta, “Your Brain on Multitasking,” CNN, August 1, 2016, https://www.cnn.com/2015/04/09/health/your-brain-multitasking/
2. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 167–168.
3. Ronald A. Rasband, “One by One,” Ensign, November 2000, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2000/10/one-by-one?lang=eng
4. M. Russell Ballard, “The Atonement and the Value of One Soul,” Ensign, May 2004, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2004/04/the-atonement-and-the-value-of-one-soul?lang=eng
5. St. Augustine, quoted in “25 Historic Quotes about God’s Love,” https://www.mormon.org/blog/25-historic-quotes-about-gods-love