We all want to be seen. No one enjoys being invisible. Even if you are an introvert, I guarantee you want to be noticed by someone. When you do a good job at work, it’s nice if a manager praises you. When you visit the doctor, it’s important that they listen to you instead of giving you scant attention with their mind already on the next patient. We girlies appreciate it when someone compliments us on a new hairdo. (When I was walking through the city centre a few months ago, on my way to meet friends, a complete stranger stopped me and told me how much she liked my hair. She followed it up with an apology and explained that she wasn’t weird or anything. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside!)
No one is invisible or unimportant to God. He notices us. In the first book of the Bible (Genesis), a pregnant servant ran away from a harsh mistress into the desert. Miserable, hopeless and desperate, she was sitting by a spring of water when God appeared to her. He called her by name, talked with her, and gave her a wonderful prophecy about the illegitimate son she was carrying. Hagar’s life was transformed by this encounter with God and she called Him: ‘God-who-sees-me’ (El Roi). Her testimony was so powerful that from then on, everyone called that spring: ‘The-well-of-the-Living-One-who-sees-me’ (Beer Lahai Roi).
Hundreds of years later, Jesus looked up and saw a short man sitting in a tree. This man was a tax collector, much-despised because of his dishonesty and thievery. Yet he wanted to see Jesus, which is why he had climbed the tree. Maybe he was curious. Maybe he was desperate because he was realising more-and-more that a successful career and being rich didn’t give lasting satisfaction or bring true happiness. But more importantly, Jesus saw Zacchaeus. They had a meal together. The tax collector’s life was transformed through that encounter with the Son of God. He joyfully paid back everything he had stolen and then some. Old Testament laws said thieves should pay back four times the amount they had stolen (restitution) and this is what Zacchaeus did, as well as giving away half of his possessions to the poor.
Another person who Jesus encountered in first century Palestine was a woman with constant vaginal bleeding. She’d had the condition for twelve long years. During that time, she was classed as ‘unclean’ by society. She was part of a large, jostling crowd around Jesus. There was an air of anticipated excitement: the ruler of the synagogue had asked Jesus to come and heal his dying daughter, and they were on their way to Jairus’ house. This woman was certain that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ robe she would be healed, and then she could slip away through the crowd, unnoticed. The medics of her day had tried lots of painful treatments, none of which had helped. As soon as she touched His robe He knew healing power had left Him. Despite the urgency of Jairus’ request, Jesus stopped the crowd and made enquiries. Trembling, the woman confessed what she had done. Jesus reassured her and spoke peace over her. Jairus might well be hopping from foot-to-foot, the crowd impatient at the hold-up, but Jesus took time to see a woman who dared to come to Him for help.
During the summer, I have had my own encounters with Jesus. I’ve been a Christian for thirty-one years but God saw things in my life He didn’t like. He wanted to change some of my thought-patterns and attitudes so that I would better reflect His Son’s loving, gracious nature. It isn’t an easy or pleasant process, but I’m so thankful that God is determined to pursue and change me, bringing to completion the work He is doing in me because He loves me so much. Praying and counselling me through this period were two wise friends from church. As I was walking to meet them for my second prayer counselling appointment, I saw a Big Issue seller. To my amazement, I found myself crossing the road and rummaging in my purse for change to buy a newspaper. I must have walked past Big Issue sellers hundreds of times, but I had never seen them before; they weren’t on my radar. But one encounter with God has changed that for good. I now find myself making sure I have extra coins in my purse when I go into the city centre in order to buy a copy of the Big Issue.
Jesus is the God who sees me. And as His Spirit transforms my life to make me more like Jesus, I am beginning to see individuals too. How about you? Do you believe God sees and cares about you – just because you are you? And are you ready to let Him use you to show His love to others?