Seeing God in 2010
When I was four-years-old, my mother woke me up on January first and said, “Happy New Year!” I asked her what she meant and she explained that the old year was over and a new one had begun. The fact that a year had vanished while I slept, horrified me and I burst into tears. Okay, I was a little dramatic as a kid, but to this day, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Eve. Or the month of January for that matter. It’s gray. It’s cold. Everything feels desolate. And when I’m already in a desolate state of mind, the weather only deepens my feelings of isolation, despair, loneliness, hopelessness. And I’m much more prone to bouts of depression in which I wonder, “God, where are you?”
For me, 2008 and 2009 were years filled with God-where-are-yous. I struggled mightily with my faith, feeling abandoned and forgotten by God. My prayers for mercy seemed to evaporate unheard, while others around me received blessing after blessing. For so long I cried out, “God, do you see me? Where are you? I am hurting. Look at me, please!”
While I was in this crisis of faith, I also happened to be writing on grief-and-prayer. The grief part, I knew all too well. But prayer? How could I possibly write an encouraging chapter on prayer when, for so long, I myself did not feel that God was hearing any of my prayers. I felt invisible to Him, unloved, unseen. Forgotten.
But out of respect for my looming deadline and in obedience to God, I wrote. And prayed. And cried. And wrote. And He began revealing Himself to me bit by bit, opening my eyes to Scriptures that I knew, but had never really seen. By the end, I knew that God did indeed see me. But more important, I had seen God.
My circumstances haven’t changed. There are still many days when I battle fierce sadness, jealousy and a deep ache for how I want my life to be, different. But I know this. No matter what my situation, there is a God who will never leave me nor forsake me. Whether it’s a desolate day in January or a balmy day in June, He is with me always to the very end of the age. He promises us that. (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20) And you know what? I believe Him.
He’s a God Who Sees, and a God who saw, Mary. At the empty tomb, with tears streaming down her face, Mary Magdalene looks for her Savoir. A voice behind her says, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Mary replies, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” (John 20:16, NIV) And in that instant, with joy she sees the One she was searching for.
I believe Jesus has a soft spot in his heart for us, for women. When he sees Mary Magdalene weeping at the empty tomb, I imagine him moved by her tears, calling her name in a gentle voice that she must have known so well. “Mary.” Can you imagine what a sweet sound that must have been to her ears?
In Luke 7:11-15, Jesus passes the funeral procession of a widow’s only son. Jesus notices the grieving mother. “When he saw her his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’ ” (Luke 7:13) Did you catch that? He saw her. When we are in pain, Jesus sees us. His heart went out to her. He hurts with us. And he said, “Don’t cry.” In our moment of need, Jesus can’t help but reach out and comfort his grieving daughters. In fact, Scripture says that he lives to intercede for us. (Hebrews 7:25)
Hebrews 13:8 tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” The Jesus who called out to a weeping Mary and who comforted a grieving widow is the same Jesus who longs to soothe you when you are hurting today.
If you are in pain, pour out your heart to the Lord and know this: He sees you. And if He sees you, then He hears you and I… when we pray. He weeps right along with us and his heart goes out to us.
Listen for His voice. Can you hear Him? Quietly, tenderly, with affection, He’s calling your name.