Longing to be noticed, affirmed and loved is something that many of us may relate to throughout our lives. Whether we desperately want attention from a parent, to be accepted by our peers or to be loved in our relationships with others, we seek to be known and seen for who we are.
The real longing of our heart can only be fully met and satisfied in knowing Jesus and resting in the truth that we are known by Him. He sees us and understands us and the circumstances in life that we find ourselves in more than we do.
Below are two stories of women in the Bible which illustrate this, followed by six comforting truths about knowing that God sees us today.
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The Story of Hagar
The story of Hagar in Genesis 16 speaks of mistreatment and suffering. Hagar was a slave to Abram’s wife Sarai. As Sarai and Abram had no children, Sarai wanted Hagar to conceive with Abram so that their family line could continue. When Abram agreed, Hagar became his wife too and she became pregnant. This caused Sarai to look upon Hagar with contempt so she mistreated her.
Hagar ran away and ended up by a spring in the desert where the angel of the Lord told her to return back to Abram and Sarai. He promised Hagar that her descendants would be too numerous to count (Genesis 16:10). In that moment, Hagar said, “You are the God who sees me” ... (and) I have now seen the One who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).
The Story of the Woman at the Well
In the New Testament, we read that Jesus met with a Samaritan woman by a well (John 4:4-42). She was amazed that Jesus would talk to her as He was a Jew and Jews did not associate with Samaritans. She was also a woman and culturally it would have been inappropriate for Him to speak with her.
In Jewish/Samaritan custom it was normal for women to gather the water earlier in the day together as a social activity. Given the fact that she was drawing up water from the well in the middle of the day by herself revealed that she was despised by her own people. Yet, her encounter with Jesus is another example of how God sees and knows the circumstances of someone’s life and offers a better way.
He knew that this woman had had five husbands and the man that she was now with was not her husband (John 4:18). Even though she was an outcast in her society and was living in sin, Jesus saw her, spoke with her and offered her something better that would have eternal significance (John 4:14).
Just like Hagar and the woman at the well, we are seen by God and He meets us where we are, even in our brokenness, sin and suffering. It is comforting to know that He is a relational God who loves us so much that He entered our world as flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is not removed from our pain and suffering, but He is able to empathize with our weaknesses, offering His mercy and grace in times of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Below are six comforting truths in knowing that we are seen and loved by God.
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1. He Sees Us
From the two stories above, it is clear that God is watching the steps of our life and met these women in their brokenness. The same Lord that Hagar and the woman at the well encountered is the same Lord that sees us today. He saw us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) and He formed us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). We can draw comfort from how we are under His care and how He is involved in all the details of our life. He is not a remote, distant God, but came into the world amongst humanity in all of their sin and suffering.
There is both comfort and warning in knowing that God sees us. As we trust in Jesus and turn away from our sin, we are “in Christ.” His righteousness becomes our righteousness. It was “for our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). However, those that refuse Christ remain dead in their sin and all that is left is the wrath of God’s judgement at the end of the age.
We will one day all bow the knee before the Lord and will have to give an account for our life (Romans 14:11-12; Hebrews 4:13). May we say like Hagar, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Genesis 16:13) and turn our eyes toward Jesus in repentance, choosing to follow Him all the days of our life for all that He has done in His love for us.
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2. He Chose Us
Not only does the Lord see us, but He chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). It is God who draws us to Himself (John 6:44). 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
We have a purpose in life to follow Jesus and proclaim the good news about Him to others. He is the one who purchased us from the darkness of sin and death and brought us into His family as redeemed and restored children of God. Believers are a part of God’s redemptive plan in the world. We do not choose Him, but He has already seen us, chosen us and appointed us (John 15:16).
3. He Knows Us
When the Samaritan woman went to tell others about Him, she said, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:29). Jesus knew everything about the woman at the well, even the parts of her life that brought shame. There are things in our lives which we have done or thought that we do not want anyone to know about. The Lord knows about those things and He went to the cross because He loved us and was the only one who could save us from our sin.
We cannot flee from His presence (Psalm 139:7), our life is fleeting (James 4:14), each hair on our head is numbered (Luke 12:7), our tears are counted and stored (Psalm 56:8) and the Lord looks to the heart not outward appearances (1 Samuel 16:7). It is comforting to know that we cannot pretend nor hide from God. We can be honest before Him and know that He came to save sinners and to bring them to everlasting life. We can start living for eternity now by demonstrating our love for Him through obedience (John 14:23) and living our life in the power of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-16).
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4. He Hears Us
There are times when we cry out to God about the hidden things in life which go unseen by others but that cause us pain and struggle. We may be grieving, experiencing an abusive relationship, battling with a physical or mental illness, losing hope, caring for a loved one or something else that happens behind closed doors where the only audience is God. It is a comfort to know that God not only sees us, but He hears our prayers. He is a living God, not a deaf or mute idol. He responds to the cries of our heart, “for the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). There will one day be justice and nothing will escape God’s judgement for “the eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).
In Exodus 3:7-9 the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians… And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.”
God never abandoned His people and He heard their cries. He had a plan to save His people from slavery which foreshadowed the coming of Christ to save His people from their captivity to sin. We are now living between the time of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection and His return. One day there will be an end to pain and suffering when God makes all things new and sin and death will be no more. We can pray confidently to Him regardless of our circumstances, knowing that Jesus is reigning today, justice will be done and we will be part of a new kingdom free from trials and tribulations.
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5. He Speaks to Us
It is reassuring to know that God is not silent, but that He has spoken in these days by His Son, Jesus Christ who is the exact representation of His nature (Hebrews 1:1-3). We may not be able to physically see God today, but Jesus shows us all that we need to know what He is like. We can listen to what God has to say and be taught, corrected and trained in righteousness when we hear or read the Bible which is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
We do not have to face the day without help from the Lord as He has given us the Holy Spirit. God will speak to us, but are we making time to listen to Him? By looking to Scripture and being filled with the Spirit, we can know God’s will for us and know more of His nature and who He is. He is not just watching over us. He is a personal God who communes and comes close to us through His Word and by His Spirit.
6. He Saves Us
On the cross, Jesus died in our place where God’s wrath toward sin and death came upon Him. Seeing the sin in all of humanity from beginning to end, Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He had a plan to save His people from the beginning (Genesis 3:15; John 17) and His death was prophesied in Isaiah 53:12: “he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”
Jesus provided Himself as the sacrifice for sins so that we would be restored in relationship to Him. Even while we were far off and enemies to God, He still died for us (Romans 5:6, 10). Jesus saved us from the penalty of what our sins deserve and purchased us by His blood on the cross.
When we trust in Him and turn from our sin, we need not fear the power of sin and death on this earth. Christ has overcome and has made a way for us to have everlasting life with Him forever. The greatest comfort of all is to be adopted into God’s family, a free gift to us that cost Christ so much, and saved us by His grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
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