God created us with wonderful senses to experience relationships—with him and with others. He created us in his image, with eyes to see and ears to hear. God himself relates to each of us with his senses. When we feel unseen and alone, the truth is, we are not.
Recently I was lamenting to my friend, Jen, that I don’t feel seen when I’m in my wheelchair. You’d think I stick out like a sore thumb in a crowd because of my wheelchair, but usually, the opposite is true. Eyes tend to look beyond me, or more often, skip over me.
It’s difficult to approach a disabled person, because what do you say? Jen wisely helped me see that we all experience feeling unseen. We all feel others don’t see us, because either we’re too young or too old; too intimidating or shy; single, married, divorced or widowed; a teen or a child. All of us feel overlooked at times.
One side of this dilemma is we live in a fallen world, and none of us sees another perfectly.
On the other hand, we can enhance our sense of sight in relationships by emulating the way Jesus saw people, with compassion.
There is one who sees us perfectly—God. As we aim to become more like him, our vision sharpens, and we become more focused on others like he is.
God sees us with his eyes
Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?Psalm 94:9
From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth.Psalm 33:13
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.2 Chronicles 16:9
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.Psalm 121:2-8
The Story of Hagar
In Genesis chapter 16, Sarai was having trouble believing God’s promise that he would bless Sarai and Abram with a son in their old age (eighties). Sarai took God’s promise into her own hands instead of trusting God to carry out his plan. She gave her maidservant Hagar over to Abram to become his wife to have relations and build their family through Hagar.
When Hagar learns of her pregnancy, she begins to despise her mistress. Sarai then mistreats Hagar, and Hagar runs away into the desert feeling hurt, abandoned, and unseen. As a poor pregnant slave girl, alone in the desert, her future doesn’t look secure—if she survives the journey through the desert, she cannot possibly take care of herself, or provide for her baby.
Here the story shifts: “The angel of the Lord finds Hagar near a spring in the desert” (16:7). He has good news, then bad news, then more good news. First, he tells her, “… the Lord has heard of your misery.” The bad news? She is to go back to Sarai and Abram. The other good news—”[God] will so increase your descendants [through her baby Ishmael] that they will be too numerous to count.”
The servant-concubine, Hagar, finally feels seen. She says to the angel of the Lord, “You are the God who sees me,” and she gives him a new Hebrew name, El Roi, “The God who sees.” Hagar felt seen by God in her distress, and it was only after she felt seen that she was strengthened to go back to her master and mistress, to fulfill the plan of the Lord. She understood her purpose.
God sees you
God sees you too. He has a plan for your life. In all your “unseenness” by others, know that your Creator has never taken his eyes off you. You are precious in his sight. You are his child, and he watches over you day and night. When you feel isolated in a crowded room, El Roi sees you. When you are alone, crying in your bed, El Roi sees you. When you are left out of a gathering and feel alone and unseen, you are not. God is watching you with the loving eyes of your Father, who knit you together sinew by sinew—who knows you inside and out. You may not understand the whys of your life sufferings, but like Hagar, you too can be strengthened to carry on and not run away once you realize that God sees you.
Hagar’s story: Part B
In Genesis 16:13, Hagar not only names God because she feels seen by him, but also because she now sees Him. “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
When we feel seen by God, our vision for others improves. Our eyes are opened to realize when in a room filled with people who don’t see us, they also feel unseen. We see what we haven’t been seeing, or rather, who we haven’t been seeing, and can now extend compassion.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.2 Corinthians 1:3-4
A Glimpse of God
Hagar received a glimpse of the Lord. We, too, have eyes to see—to receive a glimpse of God—by reading his truths, his promises, and of his love for us. When we read and practice his Word, he changes us to become more like him. We can navigate our path better as he lights the way. We can walk into a crowded room with security knowing that someone—the One—sees us for who we are, and he loves us. We can perceive others with eyes of compassion as God saw wandering Hagar.
Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.Psalm 119:105
The healing power of sight
Jesus, like His Father, saw people. His love drew him to people in need—the disabled, the outcast, the hungry, and the “sinners.” His love and compassion allowed him to see. He looked lovingly into their eyes, communicating their value to him. Love heals.
We don’t have the healing power of God, but we have the healing power of sight—to see others through a lens of love. To acknowledge those around us who are different, distressed, or lonely. Once we know we are seen, we can see others more clearly. Be strengthened today. The God of love sees you at this moment, and he adores you. Now turn your eyes to Him.
We shall see him as he is
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.Matthew 13:16-17
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.I John 3:2
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you! Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.John 20: 26-29