Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” Genesis 16:13
Raise your hand If you’ve ever sent a message to a group chat that received no response. Raise two if the conversation was buzzing down to almost milliseconds before you decided to contribute, but as soon as your message read “delivered”, there was silence.
Let’s take it a bit further: Have you ever pitched an idea in a meeting that got completely overshadowed by another person who interrupted? Ever seen your efforts toward keeping a dating partner, spouse or a child happy go unrecognized or unappreciated?
Chances are, if you’re human, you won’t have to dig too deep into your memory to pinpoint a time in your life where you felt somewhat unnoticed or undervalued.
Some years ago, I read a book in which the author described an encounter she’d had with a homeless man. She detailed how she’d apologized to him, explaining that she was sorry but simply didn’t have any money to give at the moment. “That’s okay, ma’am.” he said. “I’m just appreciative that you acknowledged me.”
If one thing is certain, it’s that everyone wants to know they matter, are understood, or in a word- seen. Even those who identify as introverts admit longing for a closeness with friends and family members that assures them they’ve been recognized. If you don’t believe me, look no further than op-eds and social media posts where you’ll find a healthy amount of demands for diversity inclusion. In fact, a modern expression frequently used online after a user voices an unpopular opinion will lead another person who identifies with it to often comment, “WOW! YESS! I FEEL SO SEEN!”
Feeling valid is a crucial part of human growth and development. But recently, I had the privilege of viewing this idea from a different perspective:
Having gone a little stir crazy from being quarantined during the Coronavirus crisis, one day I decided to go for a short walk without my cell phone. For the first time in what felt like years, I paused to appreciate my surroundings.
I noticed birds I hadn’t seen before and flowers that I had never noticed growing nearby. My apartment complex has a lovely man-made stream that runs through it and on this day, if you looked closely, you could see where four turtles had congregated on a large rock to let the warm sun dry off their shells. How I hadn’t noticed any of these things before was absolutely beyond me; But what fascinated me more was the way that with or without my acknowledgement, these living beings revealed a contentment in knowing that they would continue to thrive even if only in the face of the God who created them.
Someone who truly seemed to grasp the reality of this notion was David.
Long before he was King, we know that David was considered nothing more than an unimportant shepherd boy. In fact, when Samuel speaks to David’s father Jesse in search of the one God has anointed to be King Saul’s successor, Jesse doesn’t even mention David as a viable candidate. After parading each of his sons before Samuel, Jesse isn’t prompted to mention David until he is directly asked about him. Even then, according to the passage, he seems quite content with eating before David arrives at the table.
But in 1 Sam 16: 7, God does something amazing. Because God’s scope is not limited to the shortsighted view of flawed men, He, in no uncertain terms, reminds Samuel not to judge on the basis of appearance saying, “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
And in Psalm 139, among the love letters and songs written by David, we see him say to the Lord in a beautiful outpour of adoration, “Oh Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away…”
There it is. Known. Seen. Loved.
Please understand that it will never matter who sees you and who doesn’t. If you never receive the acknowledgement from human lips or the appreciation you feel you deserve, trust and know that the same God who created the world and took careful consideration when putting you together has always seen you. He has never overlooked you and He never will. When the world ignores you, God continues to crave fellowship and conversation with you. When mothers and fathers misunderstand you, God reminds you that he knows things about you that even you have yet to discover. Rest fully in the knowledge that you are valued, you are cherished and can thrive beautifully in the face of the God who created you no matter who co-signs or doesn’t.
Pray: Father, thank you for the fact that I am seen by you. Please make this personal to me. Help me to remember that when the world has forgotten or ignored me, I will never be forgotten by you. Fill the voids in my life that are masked by a desire to be recognized, with the security of knowing that I am cherished by the King of this life and the next. You are the God of the universe who knows my name and the hairs on my head. Make this real to me as I continue to pursue a deeper relationship with you. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN.