Standing in front of my bathroom mirror, I looked at and hated who I saw staring back at me. Thoughts racing through my head and memories running rampant in my mind, I looked at the reflection I loathed. At that point in my life and for many years after, I wandered in a world of despair, questioning whether I really mattered to God.
I kept hoping that I did.
Does God care? If so, how could He watch what was happening to me or to any of us, listen to our cries for help, and do absolutely nothing. I felt invisible to God and to the people in my life. Yes, people noticed me, but did they really see me? Did God really see me? Did they see the little girl silently screaming out for help? These are the questions I carried deep in my heart for a long time. It took years for me to grasp that even in the darkest moments of my life God did see me.
God Saw Hagar
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about a slave named Hagar. Pregnant and alone, Hagar ran away from her master’s household because the master’s wife was mistreating her. Lost, heartbroken and worn down, she found herself in the desert, wilted by the scorching hot sun. Resting near a desert oasis, an angel of the Lord appeared to her.
He asked Hagar where she had come from and where she was going. Hagar confessed that she ran away from her master’s cruelty. And the angel of the Lord told her to return to her master because the God had heard of her troubles and had great plans for her. Hagar, maybe for the first time, realized that God saw her circumstances. For this reason, Hagar called Him the “God who sees me.”
Born in Egypt, Hagar was a foreigner in a strange land where she lived with her master. She came from a polytheistic culture that believed in many gods and was most likely not a believer in the God of her masters. The beauty of Hagar’s story was (and is) that God does not only watch over those who believe in Him — He also watches over those who do not believe. He sees us, even when we refuse to see Him.
I feel a sense of camaraderie with Hagar. No, I have not been physically enslaved; however, I experienced intense emotional and psychological oppression. No matter what the type of slavery, the lasting effects are similar. Frederick Douglass in his book “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” wrote that slavery had a spirit-killing effect.
In the throes of my own bondage, my spirit died a slow and agonizing death.
God Sees Me, Too
I was so young when terror entered my life that I cannot remember exactly what my thoughts were of God back then. I know I went to church regularly. I know I loved to learn about God. And when it came to the abuse in my life, my thoughts never even questioned where God was. I believed God could see me because I was taught that if I did wrong, He would know about it and rain down His judgment against me.
For some reason, it did not translate in my childish brain or spirit that God saw more than my sins. He saw my suffering as well. Even though much of my spirit was crushed, pieces remained. I always had (still have) this immense love for God, but it took years for me to realize God saw all that happened to me and was there with me. He never took His eyes off of me. He allowed those horrible atrocities to happen — not because He enjoyed it, but because He had a plan to redeem it.
When I was wounded, God felt the pain from the assault as much or more than I did. When I thought no one saw the internal bleeding of my soul, my God saw. He engraved on my heart a remnant of my broken spirit to persevere. In His time, He put all those broken pieces back together again.
I made it through years of suffocating loneliness and intense misery because God never stopped watching over me. He never abandoned me.
Years have passed and the memories of bondage still linger, but God has been faithful to free me. We are told in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has “plans to prosper you (and me) and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God had a plan for me. He had a reason for not jumping in and rescuing me when He saw my pain and heard my silent pleas. He had a purpose for my life and pain.
He has asked me to share with all the brokenhearted that our Lord not only sees our circumstances, but He also mends our broken hearts. Intricately and with great precision, God becomes the Divine Artisan, placing each piece — one by one — together, molding each piece into the other, until it becomes its own unique masterpiece to the glory and praise of His name.
My experiences, good or not, through God’s hand upon my life, transformed me into a woman who can testify of God’s love, grace and mercy. I found healing from my shattered moments, and I found it in the arms of the God Who sees.