Have you ever felt like God was a million miles away, especially when you needed Him most? I have, and so have others. Even King David felt that way. In Psalm 10:1 he wrote, “Why are you so far away, O Lord? Why do you hide yourself when we are in trouble?” (GNT) I don’t know if it’s because we are so focused on our problem or we expect God to transport us out of the situation that causes us to feel like He’s so far away in those times.
Hagar, the mother of Abraham’s first child, felt that way too. She had been run off by Abraham’s wife because she had gotten pregnant. While she was running from her problems, an angel met her and asked where she was going. She explained how hard things were and that she felt abandoned. The angel told her to name her son Ishmael which means “God hears”. He also told her to go back to the situation she was in. She named the place Beer-Lahai-Roi which means “Well of the God who sees me”.
From that, we know that God hears us and sees us. He’s not a million miles away. There’s often times when He puts us back into situations or doesn’t take us out because He is teaching us and molding us. If we run from hard times, we will miss out on becoming who He was forming us to be. A piece of clay isn’t able to be used until it goes through the fire. Until then, it will easily crumble and the potter has to start over.
Not only did God hear Hagar’s cry for help, He heard David’s. Going back to Psalm 10, David answers his own question in verse 14. It says, “But you do see; you take notice of trouble and suffering and are always ready to help. The helpless commit themselves to you; you have always helped the needy.” If God saw Hagar and David, He sees and hears you. He’s not a million miles from you. He’s right there with you, walking through this right beside you. He is the God who sees you, and He’s working things out for your good even if you can’t see it.
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One of the hardest things to do is to see God in the middle of our struggles. I’ve found that the further away from it I am, the more I can see what God was doing. Even now, God is showing me things that He was doing two years ago in our lives. At the time, it was like we were in the middle of a tornado that was ripping through our lives, uprooting everything. We shed tears, asked God where was He in all of it and began to lose hope.
Because our outside world was crumbling, our inside world began to get affected. Like Peter, who took his eyes off Jesus as he walked on water, our hearts and minds began to sink within us. When that happens, it becomes very difficult to see God. We become more concerned with finding answers than finding God. We look at everything that’s going on instead of at the One who holds us in His hands.
In Matthew 5:8, Jesus was speaking to a crowd from the side of a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. One of the things He said was, “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world” (MSG). For many of us, including myself, it takes a while for us to get our inside world put back in place to be able to see God in our outside struggles. I believe He is telling us that we can have that peace and clarity in our storms though.
If you’re going through a difficult time right now, pray that God would help you get your inside world right. Ask Him to help you to keep your eyes on Him, and to trust Him. Remember that He is your refuge and protector. He knows that without struggles we can’t get stronger. He uses them to prune us and transplant us so we can experience more life. Even if you have to rebuild your life after the storm, it will be better and stronger than before. Also, don’t forget to look back. The more you look back and see God in your past, the easier it is to see Him in your present.
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Have you ever felt like God doesn’t see you? Does it feel like He doesn’t see you or even know your name? It sometimes can feel like God has forgotten you when things aren’t going your way. Hagar, Sarai’s maid servant, felt that way. She had been handed over to Abram as a wife by her master with the intent of getting pregnant and giving up her child to Sarai. No one asked her or God if that’s what they wanted, but here she was pregnant with Abram’s seed. She was despised by Sarai and chased off.
She found herself going from a place of security to insecurity. She went from knowing where she was going to sleep and not having to worry about food to being homeless and hungry. She broke down in the desert. She wept and cried out to God. He sent an angel to meet her in the wilderness. He called her by name in Genesis 16:8. He said, “Hagar, where have you come from and where are you going?” (NLT)
The angel of God knew where she was and her name just like He knows your name and where you are. You may be crying in the wilderness because you’ve been done wrong as well, but God sees you. He will meet you in that place and bless you. He will not leave you in the wilderness unprotected and despondent. When you cry out to Him, He will answer because you are not forgotten. You are important to Him and are not hidden from His view.
In verse 13, she calls God by a new name, El-Roi. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” In that moment, the doubts fled. She knew that God saw her broken in the wilderness. If He saw her, then He sees you. Each one of us are important to Him. You don’t have to be living the blessed life for Him to know where you are. You can be a single mom who is homeless and not sure where to go or what to do like Hagar, and God will hear your cry because He sees you. No matter how bad things are, you are not forgotten. God sees you and will meet you in your wilderness.