A few years ago, as I was driving down the highway, swiping at tears, wallowing in some drama, and feeling like a loser, I was interrupted by my phone ringing. It was a close friend who said, “Did I just pass you on the highway, and are you okay?!”
To me, it was a Hagar moment — a personal reminder from God that he is El Roi, the God who sees me even when I think I’m alone.
You remember Hagar — Abraham’s servant who he slept with to “help” God out in getting an heir and appease his wife, Sarai? Sarai then got jealous and abused Hagar, so she and her son, Ishmael, ran away into the desert to die.
There God shows up and reminds Hagar that he is the God who sees her. Always. No matter what the circumstances. But not “seeing” like a gawker driving by an accident. Instead, a “seeing” that calls us beloved, a “seeing” that numbers the hairs on our heads and knows our past, present, and future.
It’s a “seeing” that stoops to write in the dirt, that stops to single us out in a crowd, a “seeing” that has a conversation in the heat of the day at a well when we think we’d rather not be seen.
It’s a “seeing” that enters into our pain and reminds us that everything will change, except God. We’re never lost to him. And we are always secure in him.
This is why we sponsor Loveness and other kids through World Vision. We want them to know they are seen by God and us.
We have sponsored many kids over the years — some who have broken our hearts and others who have thrived, but they all received the message that they are seen. They matter to God and to us.
There is Justine, who got pregnant as an unwed 12-year-old and had to quit school. We visited her in Uganda and mourned the potential that would not be realized. We mourned the loss of her own childhood. God still sees her. She is still beloved.
There is Miguel, who grew up before our eyes in Guatemala and loves baseball, reminding us that all kids deserve a childhood with fun in it. God sees Miguel.
There is Rita, who didn’t do particularly well in school but was able to go into trade school to be a beautician. God sees her. She is precious to him.
There are many others over the years — each seen, each loved by our family.
Then there is Loveness. We have been privileged to visit Loveness in Zambia and will see her again soon. She has a smile that lights up a room. She has a family who loves her and who trusts God. We brought her a dress on her third birthday, and she wore it in every picture after that for two years.
The reason I share these stories is because regardless of the outcome, these kids are made in the image of God and need to be reminded that they are seen and loved. They matter.
My husband, John, was serving as the senior pastor of our church in Minnesota when our faith community sponsored over 1,000 kids in Rakai, Uganda. Early one Sunday morning, in the 90s, news broke that the Lord’s Resistance Army had kidnapped a bunch of children overnight for the purpose of forcing them to be soldiers and domestic workers. As people came into worship that morning, one after another asked my husband, “Are those our kids? Are those our kids?” John went to the pulpit and assured the congregation that the kids who had been kidnapped were not from Rakai. But even though they technically weren’t “our kids,” all of them are “our kids” in a sense. They are beloved by God and need to know they are seen. They matter.
Just as my friend saw me in my moment of pain, God sees each child in need. Sponsoring Loveness and our other kids has given us the privilege of partnering with God’s work in the world. If you sponsor a child, maybe take a minute now to pray that they’ll be reminded today, through the care of World Vision, that they are seen and matter.