What trials have you faced recently?
I spoke with a person this week who lost a family member to Covid-19. It was a heartbreaking story of a tragic battle with the disease, and it ended with the death of a 35 year old. I also spent some time with a young man who was just trying to find a job in these difficult days. This individual has been experiencing homelessness, and it seems like everything has gone against him. I have known this man for quite a while, and I have seen him work incredibly hard, but no matter what he tries, things always seem to fall apart. I think we all face trials and failures in our lives, and at times it is easy to sink into a spiral of defeat. I see this particularly when people face grief and hopelessness. Even people with the greatest potential can lose heart.
This week we are concluding our sermon series on the Book of Esther. This book is filled with so many trials and questions of faith, and I believe we can use it to reflect on our own lives. Do we believe we have a calling? Are we getting so caught up in the world around us that we forget to open our eyes to the love of God? I really believe that the Book of Esther is all about learning how to see. Is God here… or not?
This sermon series has reminded me of another story about a brave woman in the Bible who found her calling. Her name was Hagar, and she was a slave and a foreigner in the land of Israel. She and her son had been forgotten by nearly every other human being alive. However, Hagar has this powerful encounter with the God of Israel in Genesis chapter 16. Even though she was Egyptian, the God of Israel sees her, calls her, and God gives her hope to keep on living. In verse 13 she gives the God of Israel a new name:
“You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
It is an exceptional story to show up in the Old Testament. God does not just see the people from the land of Israel, which is how every other nation understood their gods at the time. Here is a God who sees us and teaches us how to see hope.
Today I am praying for all people. May we all realize that there is a God who cares for us and sees us. We are loved. Let us open our eyes and see it.