This past Sunday, I sat in the van I was borrowing, engulfed in a cloud of smelly smoke as traffic backed up behind me. Yep. Broken down. As I pushed the van off to the side of the road with the gracious help of the poor guy stuck behind me, my mind defaulted to a question that has been a theme question of my life. “God, do you see?”
A broken van, while a very bad thing indeed, is maybe a silly thing to ask God if he sees. But this has not been an insignificant question in my life. It’s been a huge question.
It’s a question I asked a lot as a little girl. You see, God was so BIG and I was so small. Not that I viewed it in those terms exactly as a child, but that’s what it boiled down to. And there were SO MANY people in the world. How or Why would God hear my prayer? How did prayer even work? And when He didn’t answer my urgent prayers, it confirmed my suspicion. God couldn’t see me.
So, I would try to do things to “make God happy”. I’d be sure to be the first to raise my hand in Sunday School. I’d read my Bible on my knees at night. I memorized the 10 commandments. I memorized other scripture. I’d try to do things to make God happy. But God still didn’t answer my huge prayer. God couldn’t see me.
But I still believed in God as a child, until I turned 15 when I definitively started a journey of unbelief. But up until 15, God was just a very big God with more important things to do than to see me. Which led me down a road where behavior and consequences of behavior didn’t matter. Sin didn’t matter. (Isaiah 29:15)
The heartache this caused was tremendous.
Much has changed in my life. Through God’s patient, loving pursuit of my soul, I have come back full circle to belief in God, but this God is a much different God than the God of my childhood, who was BIG, unseeing, unknowing and even frightening. No, the God that I know now is still BIG, He is still a just and righteous God, but is also a God who is compassionate. Who knows. Who sees.
I was reminded of this yesterday, when I friend posted this verse on Facebook. I had forgotten all about this verse, and I’m so glad she posted it, because I need to be constantly reminded that He sees. Because I so easily forget:
This was declared by Hagar. I’ll not explain the whole story here, you can read it in Genesis 16; please do so. But the story line is that Hagar had fled from her mistress Sarah, and God saw. He not only saw, He not only pursued and found her, but He blessed her as well.
I am in awe over the language used, the very words used by Hagar, this scared, pregnant and quite possibly a very young girl, to express what must be truth:
“You are a God of Seeing”
“Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me.”
Oh, the idea of being “looked after” by God!! The compassion; yes, even the tenderness in that phrase, is almost too much to bear. It declares that God sees. He sees. And not only does He see, but He knows. He saw Hagar in what appears to be one of her most desperate hours, and He pursued her and “looked after her”.
Hagar’s sense of God’s presence was immediate in her situation. And sometimes it is like that–immediate. A sense that God is present, that He sees and knows right at our time of most need. But there are sometimes very dark moments, terror filled moments, when God’s presence seems so very absent. Does this mean He does not see? That He does not know?
No. It must not be so. God is a God of constancy. I don’t know why he answers some prayers and does not answer others. I don’t know why He chooses to answer some prayers in dramatic rescues and why He leaves other situations seemingly virtually untouched, in what feels like abandonment. He must be there, even in those times. It is Job’s life. Oh, how I still struggle with that! But I believe scripture is truth, and that the same God that saw Hagar must be the same God that saw me as a child, that saw me at 15, and that sees me now.
And looks after me. Because there is no one else but God. There is no one else.
And that same God sees and knows you, and looks after you. Even when you are questioning “Do you see? Do you know?”