This is part 4 of the series “God’s love is the Greatest Love.” For the previous post, click here.
“But who knows what she spoke to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all her life seemed shrinking, and the walls of her bower closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
Loneliness has a way of seeping into the soul uninvited, slowly sapping our stores of joy until a gaping emptiness remains. Loneliness assaults us in the dead of night or kicks us in the gut as we jostle our way through the madding crowd. It metastasizes through our hearts and minds, increasing our susceptibility to temptation.
“I just wish someone understood…”
“Not a single person has walked in my shoes.”
“I don’t have anyone to talk to…”
“Even my wife doesn’t get it…”
“Everyone I see on Facebook is out having a good time, but I don’t have any close friends.”
“Since my husband betrayed me, I can’t trust anyone ever again.”
“I don’t think God hears my prayers anymore…”
Do any of these phrases sound familiar? Have you ever felt misunderstood or forsaken? We are deceived when we believe we are utterly abandoned. Satan pounces on our weakened mind to lure us away from our truest source of comfort.
Don’t listen to the lies. You’re not as alone as you think.
Consider with me the fathomless depths of God’s love and be comforted.
“The God Who Sees Me“
One of my endeavors in 2017 is to pay special attention to what God reveals about Himself throughout the Bible, beginning in Genesis. A close examination of these ancient texts reveals a comforting pattern: God notices everything. Whether it’s external or internal, we cannot hide a single thing from God. God sees every cruel act, every vexation of spirit, every bitter tear.
You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?
~ Psalm 56.8, NASB
For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord,
And He watches all his paths.
~ Proverbs 5:21, NASB
In Genesis 16, we see Hagar (servant of Sarai, Abram’s wife), flushing with undisguised pride over her pregnancy through Abram. So proud is she over her “accomplishment” that she treats her mistress with contempt. Sarai, in return, dealt so roughly with Hagar that she fled into the wilderness.
There’s a lot of wrongs committed in this story. It was Sarai’s suggestion to use Hagar as a baby-maker. Abram, being the head of the house, should have told Sarai it was a bad idea. Hagar should have been more considerate of Sarai’s feelings.
Out of this mess, Hagar finds herself alone. The text doesn’t reveal much about her thoughts or feelings, but it is likely she was scared.
The righteous Lord saw the wrongs on all sides. He could have let her die in the wilderness or suffer in agonizing loneliness. Instead, He comes to this despised slave and asks, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” Oddly enough, she tells Him where she came from, but not where she’s going. She probably hadn’t thought that far ahead. The Lord doesn’t rebuke her beyond commanding her to return and submit, but He does so with a promise:
“Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction...
So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”
~ Genesis 16.11, 13, ESV
Hagar apparently transferred her insolence to her son. After Isaac is born and weaned, Ishmael thinks it would be a great idea to make fun of Isaac.
Once again, Hagar finds herself in the wilderness with bigger problems. She didn’t run away this time, she was cast out. Her son isn’t in hidden in her womb. She has to watch him die a slow death from dehydration. She sobs aloud in despair. Notice what the scripture says next, “And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.” (Genesis 21.17, ESV)
Remember what Ishmael means? “God hears.“
In this moment of despair, Hagar is reminded who is watching… and listening.
Do your prayers seem to be bouncing off the ceiling or getting lost in the roar of the earth? Even if the cry is never uttered, God hears the very whispers of your heart. Just because you can’t see Him, doesn’t mean He isn’t there. Just because the answer has not arrived, doesn’t mean God isn’t working it all out.
God is the best listener in the universe. Take every ache, every anxiety, and lay them before his throne. He loves His people and is not deaf to their cries.
God sees. God hears.
During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning…
God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.
~ Exodus 2.23-25, ESV
God knows everything…
- God knows the about the slanderous gossip your co-worker spread.
- God knows the embarrassment you felt as your wife mocked you in front of your friends.
- God knows the painful stab of grief you feel each time you have to tell people about the death of your child.
- God knows how your friend glossed over your pain as “no big deal.”
God knows what is troubling you at this very moment.
You might say, “If God knows, why isn’t He doing anything about it?”
In our instant-coffee world, we think everything should happen on our timeline. When God doesn’t bring us our “order” when we want it, the way we want it, we think he is too busy or simply doesn’t care. God isn’t some barista at Starbucks, He’s the Lord of heaven and earth; He doesn’t work in the same way we do. His ways are so much higher than our ways.
Consider: Have you ever made a wise, logical, and loving decision your kids didn’t understand? They might accuse you of being cruel or unreasonable. No matter how much you attempt explanation, they just don’t have the life experience to understand all the why’s and wherefore’s. Just as our kids don’t always understand why we do things a certain way, we do not always understand the order or method of God’s work in our own lives.
He will work things out at the best time just as He did for the Israelites in Exodus. This is why daily bible study is so critical to our faith: When we see how completely God loved people throughout times and cultures, we are less likely to lose faith when trials come to us.
God sees. God hears. God knows.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
~ 1 Peter 5:6-9, ESV
I love this passage.
It plainly states an important truth: God cares for you.
God is always near, waiting for us to lean on Him. What seems like a trifling matter is important to God. He created the atom! He formed the intricate patterns of snowflakes and other microscopic things! Our Lord is the architect of details. He cares about your anxieties, your loneliness, your secret pains.
It may be that everyone you love has let you down. When all other supports fail, look for the concrete foundation that has truly upheld you. If you are seeking God, that is the moment you will spot Him most clearly. The Lord of Creation, the Almighty God, the Great I AM, cares about you.
No human on earth can love you with the same magnitude as God.
God sees your loneliness. He has heard your cry in the night. He knows how you have been let down. Above all else, He really does care.
God sees. God hears. God knows. God cares.
You are loved with the greatest love in the universe. All He wants is for you to love Him with all your heart too.