Looking for Compassion
Recently a friend of mine became homeless due to family stressors. She actually slept out on the streets a few nights. Eventually she returned to her home state and sought refuge living with her aging mother and a sister who is disabled.
In addition to being homeless, she was separated from her 10 year old son for about 6 weeks. They have since been reunited and are at her mother’s trying to put together their life. On top of all this, my friend found out that she has a bulging disc and needs immediate surgery. Such imminent surgery will hinder her ability to work and earn a living for her and her son. In my friend’s case it seemed like one difficulty after another happened.
At such times, we may ask; “Where is God? Does He see what is happening? Does He care about things like this and feel compassion? Will He help me?” To a “seasoned believer” these questions may seem ridiculous and even faithless, but to those who are enduring severe trials, such questions don’t seem so unreasonable. I have at times asked some of these questions during physical, spiritual and or emotionally trying times. I believe such questioning is a way the soul expresses its desire for God’s compassion and help.
We all want to be seen. We don’t want to be ignored or feel invisible especially when we are hurting or in difficult circumstances. There is a sense of comfort or peace knowing someone else knows and understands, even if our circumstance does not change.
Looking to God for compassion in our difficulties is a natural thing, whether we do it through pure faith or in frustration with questioning, we are, nevertheless, seeking God’s help. We see an example of this relentless looking to God for compassion in Psalm 123: 1-2.
“To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until He is gracious to us.”
The question we may wrestle with is: Does God see me?
The God Who Sees
In Genesis 16 the Bible relates a similar story of a homeless woman, a woman pregnant with a child who was forced out of her home and ends up sitting alone in the desert, and to her utter amazement she is seen by God.
This is the story of Hagar, the Egyptian maid servant of Sarah, who is with child by Abraham as a result of Sarah and Abraham’s attempts to have a child. Actually, Sarah gives her handmaid, Hagar, to Abraham to sleep with in hopes of having an heir through Hagar.
When Hagar becomes pregnant she behaves in a disrespectful way to Sarah. Sarah retaliates with severe treatment and makes Hagar’s life miserable to the point that Hagar runs away. As Hagar sits alone in the desert an “angel of the Lord” appears to her and provides hope and guidance to her. Hagar is in awe that she has been seen by God, and she gives God the name “El Roi” meaning “the God who sees.”
This scenario is repeated in Genesis 21. Hagar’s son is growing up as the apparent heir, but in the meantime Sarah has a son, who is the true heir. Sarah cannot abide with Hagar’s son presence and demands that Abraham turn them both out. So again, Hagar finds herself homeless in the desert, but this time with a 13 year old son. She sat under a tree grieving, thinking she would have to watch her son die, but God saw her and heard the cries of Hagar and her son. God sent the “angel of God” to help them. Again Hagar has been seen by God.
God sees our condition and hears our cries. God is aware of us at all times and looks on us with eyes of compassion.
God Sees Us and We See God!
Maybe you are not homeless but I am sure that at some time you have had other situations going on in your life or heart that caused you to wonder if God sees and cares. The story in Genesis 16 and 21 reveal God’s character of faithful compassion. He sees; He cares, and He works on our behalf.
Our situation or our feelings do not change the truth of God’s faithfulness and compassion. I tend to see things from my small self oriented perspective. I think that if God sees and cares that He will automatically change my circumstances. I often have a “presto-change-o” view of God. When He doesn’t change my situation I can be tempted to charge God with unfaithfulness.
Sometimes God provides immediate healing or an immediate blessing to my need, but sometimes not. How and in what time frame God chooses to work in my life and reveal Himself to me is not my concern, but the fact that He does see me should be my focus.
When Hagar was out in the desert crying and the angel of the Lord appeared to her, God did not change her circumstance. In fact, the first time, He sent her back to Sarah. We don’t read of Hagar being disappointed or accusing God of not helping her. Why? Because she had seen God! Her focus was no longer on her, the situation, or Sarah. Her focus was on the wonder of encountering God. The scriptures record her response:
“So she called the LORD who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the One who sees me?” Gen. 16: 13
She was in awe that that God saw her and spoke to her. She met God in the angel of the Lord. He acknowledged her and her difficulty. Her focus was off of her “self” and onto the great and awesome God. She was, so to speak, blown away by realizing that God saw her and acted in her life upon what He saw. I have to ask myself, how many times do I miss encounters with God because I am focused on myself or my circumstances?
We do encounter God, through His Word; through answered prayer; through the leading of His Spirit within us, and through people He places in our life. My soul burns within me when I read something in the Word of God, or experience something that helps me see God in a more real way in my life. I look for truths about His character, such as this one in Genesis 16 about God seeing us with compassion.
This story reconfirms for me that God does see me, but what is even more amazing is that He reveals Himself to me, and I see Him! What about you? Are your eyes open to seeing God?