Colossians 3:21 encourages Fathers to avoid provoking their children. But how many kids in churches do we raise the bar for because of who their parent is, expecting more from them?
This last week has been pretty miserable. Like anyone in crisis, I feel like most of what I do is wait. Wait for an answer, wait for help, wait for things to get better…and…nothing.
Well, not nothing, but struggle can feel like a void of unchanging hopelessness. I know some of you have been there. I also know that some of you are standing on the other side. Some of you have shared your stories with me, of God working, of moving from hopeless to hopeful, of trust in God and Jesus’s time, healing the deep places of your heart. Our stories keep one another going on this journey, bringing the truth of light at the end of a tunnel and the reality of the other side.
Here, the middle of hopelessness, we meet Hagar. She seems like a pawn in someone else’s game. She is sent away with a skin of water and a loaf of bread. She sits away from the bush, unwilling to watch her son die. Here is hopelessness at its best.
But El Roi answers.
“The God who sees…”
He sees her pain. He sees her struggle. He sees her hunger. He sees her aching heart. I need to know that. I need to know that God sees me.
And so He shows me.
I had a friend cry with me yesterday. Cry. Audibly.
I have rarely felt so loved.
I had a friend tell me that he finally understood what Paul meant when he said he was suffering for another person. He felt my pain, our pain, as his own.
My sisters have told me countless times that they would lift my burden if there was any possible way they could.
I am not just given a loaf of bread and a skin of water, but meals come, food is served, and sometimes I don’t even know where it came from.
There are prayers said, sometimes in the wee hours of night, on our behalf.
This is one reason why God created the Church. This is the visible Church lifting up our arms, when we ourselves can not. This is the visible Church, wrapping their arms around me and letting me cry. This is the visible Church seeing through the compassionate lens of a Savior who came to redeem our crisises and heal our broken hearts.
This is a God who sees me, through you.
He sees each of us. It is His name. And He can not deny who He is. Whatever our pain, whatever our joy, whatever our struggle.
El Roi…He sees me. He sees my husband, my kids, my people. He sees, and that is my Hope each day.
There was a verse that came up in my Bible study this week, an Old Testament battle story, filled with faithfulness and friendship. The author really wanted me to get a specific idea from the Scripture passage – trust and listen, God intervenes. It’s a good message and completely Biblical. However, it’s not the one I heard.
The whole time I was reading the passage, one verse from it played like a loop in my mind:
Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
1 Samuel 14:7
In my heart an old longing sat, calling out to God….
“I just want a friend. One single friend.”
This is what we all want, isn’t it? I mean, all of us on this round planet, searching for someone to understand us and love us “heart and soul.” This isn’t a romantic verse. It’s a verse about going into the thick of life…together. God is always enough, but this verse shows us that God is not only enough, but He’s a friend that cares enough to bring us other friends. He values people and relationships in our lives and works through them.
Time and time again I hear women tell me, “I just want one friend. Someone who sees me for who I really am, who’ll invite me places, and most importantly invite me into their life and want to join in mine. Friends who reside in the tri-state area, not spread hither and yon by ministry life, grown up life, or just life.”
When we moved to our first church call, I thought that friend would never come and then… I went to library story time. Weird, but true. I meet Lani, who was also looking for a friend. She was willing to open her heart and her time for me and what a difference it made! Lani moved away, 2 short years after we met. (Tears.) But her gift to me was that gift of the armor-bearer of Jonathan –
“Do all that you have in mind…I am with you, heart and soul.”
Lani opened her heart, so that I can open mine now to others. I can make myself vulnerable and risk all the yucky rejection, because she was willing to be my armor-bearer, my first friend in a strange new place, giving me strength in the battle against isolation and loneliness.
Do you long for a good friend?
Can you be that friend for another woman? Not just saying “Hi,” but inviting her in?
God is surely enough, but He also surely cares about the very desires of our heart, including bringing you a friend. Lift it up to Him, sister. He hears. He doesn’t just give us the armor, but He gives us people to bear the armor with. It might be His timing, but He has a friend in mind.