I love practical jokes. The more elaborate, the better. I saw a video of a practical joke where a magician was performing in a park to a crowd. Everyone was in on it except for the person who walked up and joined the crowd. After a bit, the magician needed a volunteer. The person who walked up was chosen. After he made them “disappear”, a person from off screen would come and interrupt the show and take the magician away. While the magician was away, two people would come up and take a selfie in front of the chair. When the unsuspecting person saw the phone, the didn’t see themselves and thought they were invisible. Some who “disappeared” had fun with it, but most panicked when no one could see them. They desperately tried to get people to acknowledge them, but the crowd who was in on it, pretended they weren’t there. When the magician felt they had enough, he would return and make them “appear” again.
In Genesis 16, Abraham and Sarah had been told by God they would have a child. After waiting and trying and not seeing they answer, they preempted God’s plan. Sarah gave her maid, Hagar, to her husband in order to have a child. After her son was born, Hagar taunted Sarah to the point that Sarah kicked her out, but God saw her and comforted her. She called Him El Roi the God who sees me. He then sent her back. Several years later Sarah gave birth to Isaac. When he was weaned, she had Abraham kick out Hagar and her son. Hagar found herself in a desperate situation in the desert. Her resources were gone and she had no hope. Right when she was giving up, God showed up and showed her an oasis of water to meet her needs. God proved to her again that she was not invisible to Him and that He cared for her.
Psalm 33:18-19 says, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine” (ESV). I want you to know that no matter how dire your situation, how depleted your resources are and how invisible you feel, God sees you. His eye is on you. Continue to hope in Him and He will deliver you from the famine you’re in. He has not forsaken you. He has not forgotten you. In my own life, I’ve found that God uses those desperate, wilderness places to reposition us and to build our faith in Him. You may feel invisible to the world around you, but God sees you. What feels like and ending is often God creating a new beginning for you.
Two of the biggest lies we hear when we’re going through a difficult time is that no one else understands and that God doesn’t care. I remember hearing both and believing them. The first one tries to get you on a technicality because there is no one else with your exact situation. I’ve found that while our situations may be unique, the pain and the process we go through is very similar. While someone may not be able to fully understand my exact situation, they can identify with the pain. That leads us to the second lie that God doesn’t care. The lie wants you to think that if God cared, you wouldn’t be going through so much. The truth is that even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He’s there with you to guide you and comfort you. He makes all things work together for our good.
I don’t know anyone who went through as much as Paul or Job. Job lost everything including his wealth, his kids and property. He still was able to worship God in that moment. In Job 2:9, when his wife told him to curse God and die, he responded, “Shall we accept good from God and not the trouble?” (NIV) When Paul was thrown in prison with Silas after having been beat, he invited God’s presence into the deepest, darkest part of that prison in the middle of the night by singing praises. When both of these men felt abandoned by people and God, they worshipped knowing that God dwells in the praises of His people. They held to the truth that God cares for us no matter how bad things may seem.
Psalm 31:7 says, “I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul” (NLT). In the darkest nights of my life, the most painful times, I turned on praise and worship music to help me worship when I didn’t feel it. God is worthy of our praise no matter what it is we’re going through. He sees the anguish in our soul and He cares deeply for us. He knows that the pain, the hurt, the sadness and the darkness will only last for a little while. He never leaves us in those times though He may feel far away. He’s there leading us into a greater joy and life that often goes through the darkest valley. Don’t listen to the lies and despair. Listen to the truth and worship.