Her dad died three days ago. She stands there, talking about her family’s response to the death, how she can’t do anything to make her dad come back. She is lost, at a loss for words and thoughts.
His dad died. There is a feeling of despair in his family, as now his brother has just been diagnosed with cancer. Standing there, in the middle of the grass during lunch, he communicates a feeling of hopelessness.
Her parents got a divorce three weeks ago. There was a lot of fighting and hurt, but it seems to be getting better. Her dad moved out of state. She’s now living with just her mom. Things are getting back to resembling a normal family, but there are still feelings of loss and confusion. She goes back to her table with her friends to wait for the bell to ring.
“What are you concerned about?” I ask as I lead another 7th grade student during this activity at school. She hesitates. There is something there, but she is not sure if she can trust me. Her parents are fighting. She wants things to be better, but it doesn’t look good. She worries about her family.
7th graders. While on a middle school campus this last week, I had these conversations with 7th grade students during the lunch period. Upon leaving the school that day, my heart cried out for them. Do they go to a church? Do they know God, the kind of hope that comes from Jesus? I don’t know if these students are in relationship with God, the One that turns his face toward us and makes his face to shine upon us.
There is a lot of confusion in the world about God, especially when in circumstances like these four students are in. When we are in times of pain and loss, we often think that God is a being who doesn’t see us in our situations, who doesn’t understand. We believe that he is either ignoring us and doesn’t care or that he likes to see us in pain. Maybe we think that God is disappointed in us.“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”
What if we worship a God who sees? Hagar, who was lost and confused about what had happened in her life, was trying to run away from her situations. She was in the desert, with no one to help her, and God saw her in her situation. She then named God “the One who sees me.” God turns his face toward us. God sees us in all of our crap. God knows us and what we’ve done or what’s been done to us. And God is proud to shine his face upon us, calling us his children.“For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”