For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:11-14)
Jesus says He came to seek and save the lost. Those should be comforting words to any who find themselves doubting what is true or if God exists. God is Lord even of the Lost and loves them enough to seek them out. Christ uses the examples of a person losing one sheep out of a hundred or of losing a coin, who goes in search of that lost item as a metaphor for Himself. Archimandrite Aimilianos reflects on how humans at the beginning became lost and how God in His love seeks to restore humanity’s relationship with Him:
We can say that God’s lament, His tears, and His anxiety over the fate of His missing son [i.e., Adam], are all things which, in a sense, happened before he put this question to Adam. They are events in the life of God that occurred during God’s search for fallen man. With the glorious light of His countenance, God searches the house of paradise for the lost coin, which bears His sovereign image (cf. Luke 15:8), and as He does so He cries out in hope: Adam, where are you? The response God was longing to hear was this: ‘Here I am, Father, waiting for You, because I have sinned; but I know that You are still my Maker and my God.’ But what did Adam say? I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid, and so I hid myself. The woman whom You gave to be with me, she deceived me (Genesis 3:10, 12).
Do you understand what Adam is saying? ‘I am no longer looking for God, but only to justify myself.’ Instead of hearkening to God, Who has called out to him, Adam has turned inward, so that God becomes a frightening, external force: I heard sound of you, and I was afraid. And what is he afraid of? He is afraid of the truth about himself, afraid that God will not accept his self-justifying explanation of what happened. And what explanation was this? That God himself was to blame for what happened! Because that is what Adam meant when he said, ‘the woman whom You gave me, she deceived me, and thus this is all Your fault, God.’ (THE WAY OF THE SPIRIT, pp 236-237)
It is only when humanity cuts itself off from God that it becomes afraid of the Lord, or perhaps as Aimilianos suggests humans become afraid of what is true about us. For the truth is our becoming lost, separated from God is the result of our own thinking and activity and is not God’s fault, though we frequently blame God for our bad relationship with Him. God for His part continues to seek us out and to call us back to Him.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant, for I do not forget thy commandments. (Psalm 119:176)
“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and upon the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice. (Ezekiel 34:11-16)