By Pastor Rob Bloss
How many people are suffering in silence? How many are dealing with trauma, fear, shame, addiction, abuse, or some other form of pain in the shadows of isolation imposed by COVID?
I’ve been there before. I’ve felt overlooked, unseen even while living in plain sight. I’ve been the sheep who hadn’t wandered so far that anyone would think I was missing, but in reality, I was desperately lost.
It was the first point in Rob’s sermon last week: We are not unseen by God, who sees everything. We are seen and known and loved and constantly thought about by the God who intricately knit us together, makes plans for us, and determined all our days before they even began.
Just sixteen chapters into the Bible, the Lord declares himself as El Ro’i: The God of seeing. Perhaps you remember the story in Genesis 16? In a desperate attempt to have a child, Sarah (Abraham’s wife) gives her servant (Hagar) to Abraham to have a child on her behalf. But after Hagar conceives, Sarah’s jealousy swells, and she mistreats Hagar until Hagar runs away.
But God saw Hagar and met her at a spring of water in the wilderness. Now granted, this is God’s chosen family, so of course He’s paying attention. Abraham is the patriarch of Israel. But in all technicality, Hagar didn’t count. The Abrahamic covenant (God’s promise to Abraham) did not include Hagar—an Egyptian servant probably acquired when Abraham and Sarah fled to Egypt during a severe drought (instead of trusting God in Canaan).
Had Abraham trusted God and stayed in Canaan, Hagar would have never been there. Yet God did not ignore Hagar, nor did He reject Hagar. God saw her—a lowly servant who didn’t count—and God comforted this sad, heartbroken woman.
If God saw Hagar, then we can be sure, He sees us. In Christ, we are God’s children. And what perfect parent turns a blind eye to their children? The thought is inconceivable.
When life isn’t going the way I want, my job is not to figure out why, but to trust that God sees and knows and is still in control. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” God is always looking, and God is always ready to lend support to those who trust in Him, strengthening His children as only He can do.
Scripture offers us other examples, too. When we feel invisible, all we need to do is look to Joseph, David, or Daniel; Ruth, Esther, or Mary Magdalene; Nicodemus, the woman at the well, or Peter to find encouragement. (Just to name a few.)
God saw Joseph in his prison cell and David alone in the sheep pastures. God saw Daniel taken captive and drug all the way to Babylon. God saw Ruth in her widowhood, with no other option but to glean leftovers alongside the rest of the poor and needy.
God saw Esther taken from her uncle to the palace of a foreign king. God saw Mary Magdalene imprisoned by demons. He saw Nicodemus up in that tree and the woman at the well (every part of her) before He even got there. And as for Peter, God saw the man Peter would become long before Peter showed up.
God sees our hearts and our struggles. God knows our sin and our suffering. God knows exactly what you are going through. Pain is not an indication that God does not see, though the devil hopes we’ll presume that. Rather, it is a constant testament to our need for a Savior and the presence of unwelcome sin in this world.
Here’s what I’ve realized: when I feel unseen, chances are my eyes are not on the Savior. I’m not focused on God when I feel invisible, I’m focused on myself. Much of the time, my desire for visibility hinges on a desire for recognition. I long for praise and a medal and a podium and someone to lift me a little higher.
God is not the one with the vision problem—I am. Right now, I only see in part, while He sees the entire picture. I am not unseen, and neither are you. The Scriptures repeatedly testify that God sees and understands.
He sees you. He sees your wounds and your worries. He sees your heart and your hopes. And if you are a child of God, He’s right there with you. The Lord never turns a blind eye to His people. He is the God who sees us, the God who is always looking for a heart willing to trust in Him.
And as God sees us, may we see each other. May we take notice of those who are on the periphery, those who are feeling isolated and overlooked. May we see the brokenness around us, hear even the faintest of cries for help of those in pain, and step into the void of those who feel as if they are invisible.