Seen by God
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13
I’d say the biggest challenge in my 8+ years of living with chronic pain has been believing that God really sees me - and cares.
At first there was pain and fear as I grappled with the initial shock and attempted to make some sense of what was happening. When I lost my job days before Christmas in 2011 and numerous new treatments and therapies did nothing to ease my suffering, the realization began to dawn that perhaps I was in it for the long haul with this chronic pain thing. Unemployed and bewildered, days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, then months turned into years as I struggled to simply cope with the daily grind.
I’d look at Facebook and see pictures of friends going on hikes in the mountains, running half marathons or taking vacations to Hawaii and it felt like a hot knife had been poked right into the center of my heart. Everyone else’s life seemed to be moving forward but mine was stuck in… nowhere? God, did you still see me? Do you care at all? What hidden sin or unrepentant attitude of the heart has caused you to forsake me like this?
Maybe you’ve been in this place as well; maybe you’re there at this very moment - your issue might not be chronic pain; perhaps it’s a marriage slowly coming apart, a spouse who has left you for someone else, or seems to have emotionally checked out, a cancer that’s returned after you thought for sure you were in the clear, a child who has rejected Jesus and is openly living a sinful, rebellious lifestyle, a job that seems to suck the very life out of you, a pile of debts that threatens to wipe out everything you have left, or a parent in the throes of dementia who no longer even recognizes you…
There are so many things that can lead us to believe God doesn’t see; the devotional “Seen by God” from Our Daily Bread points to the story of Hagar from the book of Genesis - the author writes:
Hagar was a “nobody” in her culture, pregnant and alone, fleeing to a desert without help or hope. Seen by God, however, she was empowered, in return, to see Him. No longer a vague concept, God became real to her, so real that she gave God a name, El Roi, which means “You are the God who sees me.” She said, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).
God saw Hagar; he sees you and I as well. Sometimes that’s all we need - a gentle reminder that God sees, cares, loves, and has a plan and purpose for our lives. May he open the eyes of our hearts today to know that yes, we are seen.