When It Feels Like God Doesn’t See You

Text: Genesis 16:1-16

“You are a God of seeing… Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:13

I was a lost and desperate runaway teenager. Though I spent many a night trying to run from an abusive earthly father, I could never get beyond the reach of the relentless and steadfast love of the heavenly Father. My book 13-Foot Coffins chronicles much of that childhood testimony.

In September of 1987, I found myself confined to a jail cell at the Marion Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Ocala, Florida. As an incarcerated youth, I felt like my life had come to an end. There was nothing left… it seemed. Little did I know, out of these ashes would rise something that would ultimately change the whole course of my life.

God saw me in that desolate and forsaken place, and sent a minister to share the gospel with me. That man, Preacher Woody, not only became a longtime mentor in my life, he became the father figure I never had. Through that encounter I experienced a new birth, and a new beginning in Christ. I knew I had to return to a difficult family situation where God wanted me to show love and forgiveness to my biological father, who had hurt me in so many ways.

God knew exactly what I needed in that desperate hour of my life—all because He is the God who sees.

In Genesis 16, Hagar is in a state of hopelessness. This Egyptian girl was a maid to Abraham’s childless wife, Sarah (then Sarai). And when Sarah and Abraham lost faith in God’s ability to overcome Sarah’s barrenness, things got pretty messy. Sarah forced Hagar to sleep with Abraham to conceive a child for them. After Hagar became pregnant, drama kicked in. Overtaken by jealousy and anger, Sarah treated her so harshly that Hagar fled into the wilderness—pregnant and alone.

Sarah might have rejected Hagar but God hadn’t. While on the run, “The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert” (Genesis 16:7). Many scholars believe this to be an actual appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ. The angel meets Hagar in a desolate and forsaken place, instructing her to do something very difficult. He commanded her to “return and submit” to her mistress, assuring her that God would take care of her and her offspring forever. As it always does in Scripture, the command to “return” came with the promise of blessing.

In response to how God sought her out in her hopelessness, Hagar declared:

“You are a God of seeing… Truly here I have seen him Who looks after me” (Genesis 16:13).

God desires to draw near to the brokenhearted. He relentlessly pursues those who are beat up by life. In those times when it feels like God has forgotten about us, Hagar reminds us that He is “the God who sees,” and He is watching over us, seeing us, and providing for us in our darkest hour of need. No problem is beyond His reach, big or small. He is keenly aware of every detail, every hurt, and every need we have. It is His will that we surrender in every circumstance, to stop running and turn ourselves around.

The God “Who sees” knows you more intimately than you could ever imagine. He looks after you and still has purposes to fulfill in you, for you, and through you. Rest in that promise as you seek to abide in Him this week.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, there is nowhere I can run to elude your presence. You know my story from beginning to end; You see it all. Through every hardship and every trial, You remain the same. Help me to recognize You as the God Who sees. Thank you for being everything that I need in every place—no matter how forsaken it may seem. Help me to turn around when you say to turn—to realize Your blessing in difficult obedience. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. When have you found yourself in a seemingly forsaken place?
  2. Have you ever felt beyond the reach of God?
  3. Why do you think God often commands us to return to difficult places rather than take the easy path of least resistance?
  4. In what ways have you experienced God’s blessing through difficult obedience?
  5. What might God be telling you to return to in this season of your life?

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