November 27, 2016

The God Who Sees

It is a blessed Sunday here in sunny and cool, Phoenix. Yes, it is lovely outside right now. There is a slight nip in the air, and the skies are mostly clear and blue. Yesterday, it was cloudy and cool, but still a perfect day to put the outside decorations up on the house. I was so blessed to have been able to decorate our house once again this year.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and decorating the tree, the house, and outside the house, is something I look forward to all year long. I don’t over do it, mind you. I am not one of those people who spends $1K on decorations just to have millions of lights blasting the entire neighborhood. No, I like old-fashioned house lights, just the bulbs, a couple wreaths and some festive cheer.

In all, yesterday was a wonderful day of “work,” and today is truly a day of “rest.” Praise be to God, I am resting, really resting today.

El Roi

This is a good day, therefore, because I am home, at rest, and at peace. Yes, the Lord, my God, has seen to all my needs with sufficiency, and I am able to finally settle down and rest. He is good to me, so very good to me.

Today, therefore, is a day of reflection. I am thinking about all the good things the Lord has provided to me. I am reminded of the story of Hagar this morning, especially as I think back on all the times when I felt alone and overwhelmed, and it was God, who saw to my needs. I am like Hagar in many ways. I spent a great deal of time running from God (her name means “a stranger, one that fears”) out of fear. Moreover, I found myself in a predicament whereby I was the proverbial unloved and unwanted woman. Like Hagar, I had a child, whom I loved, but a husband who didn’t love me. Although Hagar was not married to Abraham, she did conceive a child by him, and she was part of his household (so she was under his banner of protection). Yet, Hagar didn’t feel safe or protected, and in Genesis, we read about how she came to be alone in the desert.

It is in Genesis 16:13 that we read about the story of Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael. It is in this verse, in particular, where we first read about one of the many names of God. In this context, it was Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid, who responded to God’s goodness and kindness by calling Him “the God who sees.” In her distress, Hagar addresses the Lord as the One who sees her.

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."

It is interesting to note that Hagar was the only person in scripture to give God a name (DeMuth). Hagar, if you recall from the story, was in a terrible spot. She had taken her child, Ishmael, and ran from her mistress, Sarah, who was mistreating her. She had chosen isolation, loneliness, and yes, death, in order to avoid the terrible predicament she was in. After all, she had given Sarah and Abraham a child. Yet, this boy was not the promise that God had made to Abraham, a child to be born from his own loins, a child who would be born of Sarah AND Abraham. Hagar was the unwanted woman, the handmaid, given to Abraham by his wife, to force God’s promise to come to pass. Hagar was unloved and unwanted, yet despite her predicament, she was the one who witnessed the Angel of the Lord, and the one who received favorable treatment and care. In return, she calls out to the Lord, and she “names” or addresses Him as “The God who Sees.”

In Hebrew, the word “El” is another name for God. In the Bible, we often see “El” combined with other words to demonstrate a specific character attribute of God (Blue Letter Bible). “El” generally denotes strength or might (Bible Study Tools). So for example, when we say, “El Shaddai,” we are calling God: Lord, God Almighty. Thus, Hagar in our story, called God: El (God) + Roi. In this way, “Roi” gave a specific characteristic to God’s action in dealing with Hagar. “Roi” is a derivitive of “Ra’ah,” which means “to see.” Thus, Hagar was saying that it was God “that seeth” or more literally, “of sight” (Bible Study Tools). Again, according to scholars, this name of God appears only once in the Bible.

When we consider the story of Hagar, one thing comes to mind: Our God is a God who sees us. Often, we feel alone or isolated, and when we are in dire need or deep distress, we typically take the view that God is absent or not paying attention to us. This is an oversight on our part because God is all-seeing, and thus, He is always aware of our circumstances or situation. Yet, we wonder why He doesn’t intervene, why He doesn’t rescue us, or why He doesn’t change the outcome. We ask why does God, who sees us in our distress, not do anything about our situation?

The answer to this question is complicated because it factors in many different viewpoints and perspectives. In Christian theology, God sees everything and everyone. He is sovereign over all His creation. Yet, because of sin, the relationship between God and man is fractured or broken. As a result, there is a chasm that exists between God and mankind. This chasm sits between God and His creation, and therefore, any relationship with God is impossible because of the effects of sin. The only way for man to be restored to a relationship with a Holy and Just God is for some sort of sacrifice, some substitutionary action, that would absolve the sinful effects and make it possible for the creature to commune with the Creator (John 3:16). In the Bible, that way is clearly described and denoted by the death, the burial, and the resurrection of God’s Only Son, Jesus, the Christ. Yes, Jesus is the substitutionary sacrifice that appeases a Holy and Just God, and enables the creature (man) to be restored to relationship with the Creator (God). 

As a Christian, God not only sees us, but He hears us as well. This means that whenever we are in distress, God sees our situation. The reason why He may choose to tarry or delay His response to our cry for help typically stem from one of three reasons: (1), God is using the situation to develop within us strength and resolve (endurance and patience); (2) God is using the situation in order to enable us to minister to others who are in similar situations (to give encouragement); or (3) we are in the situation of our own accord (sin) and we are unrelenting or unrepentant. There may be other reasons or factors, but these three seem to be the most common.

I know in my case, I was in my distress for reasons (1) and (2). Yet, for a time, I was in my distress for reason (3) as well. Once I relented and repented of my sinful action (my decision to walk away from God’s will), I found that my ability to withstand my situation improved. God didn’t open a door immediately, and He didn’t just carry me away from all the pain and the suffering. No, for a time, He allowed me to sit, to stew, and to settle in my distress in order to help me “see” my own actions and the consequences of those actions. In truth, my distress proved to be a life lesson, a lesson whereby I came to see Him more clearly, more correctly, and with more accuracy; and, I came to see my own failures and flaws in more detail. Yes, the Lord kept me in my distress so that I could come to see my own devices and the outcome of those devices. He gave me sight to see the difference between man-made decisions and God-ordained ones. I learned that the latter are far better than the former, and that  reliance on God and His will, generally provides a far better outcome than any man-made decision or approach (Prov. 3:5-6).

God Sees Me

This past week, I came to the realization that God does indeed see and hear me. He has been my faithful companion, and as such, I have come to rely upon Him for meeting my every need. This past week was difficult and stressful. I was on vacation from my campus teaching, and I was so looking forward to resting and to working on my dissertation project. Yet, I had all this “teacher” work to do, grading mostly and maintenance, and despite my best efforts, I didn’t get to rest or work on my dissertation at all. In fact, I spent the entire week working here at home. I worked most days and nights, and praise be to God, in the end, I completed every single task on my to-do list. Yes, last night around 11 p.m., I finished all my tasks.

I was disappointed that I didn’t make good progress on my dissertation, but I was prevented from doing so. On Wednesday, I applied for the software license that I hoped to use for my research. I have not received confirmation on acceptance. In order to get started (per the website’s instructions), I tried to download the demo product three times. Again, I never received the confirmation email with link to do so. It was as if every single attempt on my part was thwarted, and I had no recourse but to focus on other tasks, which I did. I am still not sure what the Lord intends for me to use, but for now, I can do nothing but wait for clarification. Until I hear back or the Lord provides an alternative to me, I am stuck in a stationary place, treading water, and waiting for His sweet release.

I could have panicked (well, I did a bit), but really, I simply moved on. I was busy, so very busy, and I focused on my tasks and on accomplishing them by their assigned due date. In the end, I finished everything INCLUDING decorating the inside of the house, the tree, and the outside house with lights. My God saw me in my distress, and this past week, He provided a way for me. It wasn’t the way I thought I wanted or needed, but it was the way of His choosing, and the result or outcome was great success.

Now, I am able to rest this good day. I am able to focus on a couple things, mostly creating my power points for next week, and preparing for my remaining two weeks of school. I am blessed, beyond blessed, as my God has taken me by the hand and seen to all my needs this past week.

Moving On Slowly

My next steps are to finish my schooling and then begin my analysis work on my dissertation project. I am scared a bit about how to do that, but I have to believe that the Lord has me well covered. For now, my plans are to focus on what I can do, and not what I cannot. This means that my focus is set on two things: (1) completing my assigned contracts for the semester, and (2), completing my analysis research so I can write my chapter 4-5 over the Christmas break.

As I finish both of these focus-areas, my prayer is that the Lord would reveal to me His plan for my future. I am content to remain where I am for the time-being, but I also know that the Lord has pressed on me the desire to move, and I believe that after I have sourced through the desire, and eliminated all that was based on my wish or want, I still have the base desire to relocate. This tells me that the desire to move is not my own, but rather, it is a desire of the Lord. 

Just yesterday, my son and I had a good conversation, and he mentioned to me that several of his friends had discussed getting an apartment together next fall. He has mentioned it before, but he never really did anything about it. He discussed it with me yesterday, and I couldn’t help but think that this is the Lord’s confirmation to me. I had prayed, well — am praying — over the outcome. I mean, I struggle with the thought of moving to another state and leaving my son here in Phoenix. His dad is here, but his dad provides no assistance to him. If I move away, then my son has no one to help support him. Of course, I will do my best from a far, but frankly, I worry about it. Still, it was as if the Lord said to me, “See, Carol. I have you covered. I am working on a solution and it will be good for you and for your son.” 

Oh, Lord, why do I not trust you completely?

My prayer has been for a solution to my needs, and of course, that also means a solution to my son’s needs. It appears to me that the Lord is working behind the scenes to bring that solution to pass. My hope now is that the Lord will also bring a confirmation to me regarding my parents long-term care. As of now, we are doing well, but my parents do not want to move and well, their insistence causes me concern. If the Lord says I must go, what will happen to my parents? I believe, as with the case of my son, that the Lord has a provision for their care as well.

This leaves me to believe that in all things, I am truly well-covered. I have good practical work to do today, and my spring schedule is now settled. I received confirmation on Saturday that I am scheduled to teach two courses at Regent during the first sub-semester. I will have the same combination that I have now, so the good news is, I am prepared. In all, I will be teaching five classes during the first 8-weeks of the semester. More than likely, I will teach five during the second half as well.

At Grand Canyon University:
  • English 360 American Narrative Encounters (MWF) 1:55-3:05
  • English 106 English Composition II (MWF) 3:20-4:30
  • English 106 English Composition II (MWF) 4:45-6:30
At Regent University:
  • English 101 English Composition I (online)
  • English 205 Literature of the Western World (online)
I consider this provision to be significant because it means that I will be well-provided for during the first part of the semester. The second part, hopefully, will be similar. Together, I should earn enough income to be able to be well-covered through the dry months of the summer. Of course, I still have OCU, where I can teach short 5-week classes online. I am thinking that as of now, unless I get a full-time offer, I will plan on teaching at OCU over the summer. These are easy classes for me to teach, and I like the curriculum. The extra pay will come in handy for my off-season.

In short, the Lord has seen to my needs. He is both El-Roi and Jehovah-Jireh. More so, He is Jehovah-Nissi as it is His banner or standard that covers me. The Lord has provided abundantly, sufficiently, and He does indeed see my needs. I have come to trust Him, to rely on Him, and to abide in Him.

I am still praying over my son’s car situation, and of course, a way to pay for a second car. I know that the Lord is working on that problem as well, so for now, I must be patient and wait. I must look up, and remember that the Lord sees me. He knows my needs well, and He is active and present in every area of my life. I can rest in His security. I no longer need to flee or fight. I can simply let go and let the Lord lead, guide, and provide for me. He is good to me, so very good to me.

In Closing

It is a good day. I am blessed, and I am rested. I pray today for the Lord to do whatever He needs to do in my life in order to improve it, to make it or to remake it so that I can live exactly as He desires that I live. He has my complete allegiance, and in this way, I am His to do with as He pleases. He is good to me, so very good to me. I trust Him, and I rest in Him this good, good day.

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