When you call on the God Who Sees, you are praying to the One who gives purpose to pain.
Today’s post is probably the most important one so far, in learning to surrender your life to God.
Before you can surrender to a person there needs to be trust.
Before trust can develop, you need to have communication.
That is what I want to illustrate today with this post.
The way we relate to God in prayer is a very good indicator of our relationship with him.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that when you finish reading this post today, you will walk away with a clearer understanding of the power and purpose of surrendering your heart to God through prayer.
Open a paper or turn on the news, and your bound to see a world that’s suffering.
More than anything, you are acutely familiar with the chaos present in your own life.
We are told from our Christian infancy that God’s plan is NEVER a mistake; there is no PLAN B – not even man’s exile from Eden.
But, IF God is operating on PLAN A…then how should we pray when He is leading us through a hardship?
In order to attempt to answer this question properly, I will turn to the Bible and one of its most famous stories. The story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar.
Next to the biblical giants, Abraham and Sarah, the Egyptian slave girl Hagar seems at best to hold the role of supporting actress.
But the spotlight is all hers in Genesis 16.
At a time when God was spoken of only in broad, majestic terms like Elohim (the Creator God) or Shaddai (the Almighty), Hagar responds to hearing the Lord by giving him an intimately personal name that still defines our theology today: El Roi (the God Who Sees ME).
In Genesis 16, ( which I strongly suggest you read), the scene is set with a common theme in the biblical narrative: Sarai (who we will later know as Sarah) has thus far been unable to give her husband, Abraham an heir.
She is pushing 76, so according to the custom of her day, she makes her slave girl a surrogate.
As if forced servitude weren’t dehumanizing enough, the young maidservant is commanded to sleep with 86-yr. old Abram.
She conceives, but in a culture where motherhood is a woman’s most prized career, Hagar knows she’ll be stripped of this right as well.
We will never know which force drove her the most, but we can assume that it was either the pending release of her child to Sarai’s waiting arms, or her own growing pride in her ability to conceive that drives Hagar to treat her barren mistress with scorn.
Sarai’s discipline of her causes Hagar to flee.
Feeling unseen, abused, and alone, Hagar runs away to a potentially more dangerous place: The Wilderness.
The Bible is unclear how long she wandered there, but she is pregnant, undoubtedly lost, hungry, and desperate to be seen by someone who would be willing to fight for her.
We can only imagine the heartbreak, fear, anger and loneliness that permeated her heart.
This is when something life-changing happens.
God calls her by name, confirming that she IS indeed seen.
In fact, God “found her”, (Genesis 16:7) says. He didn’t stumble upon her; He PURSUED her.
During their dialogue- which by the way, is the heart of prayer – God calls her to a mission:
To go back to the very thing she is running from.
He does not send her back empty-handed.
He tells her that she will give birth to a son and that her descendants will be innumerable.
More than promising that she will not die in the desert, God just promised Hagar that He will continue to SEE her, HEAR her in prayer, and GIVE her a role in a story that will someday encompass both the Hebrews and the Gentiles.
Hagar, now has the ability to return to a less than ideal life with the confidence that she is not alone.
The knowledge that she has been a key piece in a bigger plan, and a message for her community:
The Lord is a personal God WHO sees YOU.
I use the story of Hagar, because I can relate to her in many ways. If you think about it, she eventually ends up being cast out, along with her son, and she become a single mother who is desperate and determined to care for her child in any way that she can.
I too, heard God speaking to me personally, and came to know the truth, that he SEES Melanie, when I was “wandering in my own wilderness” as a single mother who was terrified.
When we encounter suffering, our natural instinct is to retaliate or run.
Sometimes escaping from a bad situation is God’s plan.
But often our limited human vantage point prevents us from grasping His eternal perspective.
In those situations, laboring through dark and lonely places teaches us to see beyond ourselves and advance God’s kingdom in a broken world.
This has definitely been the case in my situation. God came to me when I was at my lowest point, and picked me up and enfolded me in his arms, and gave me the insight I needed to pick myself up, and succeed. By doing this, I am showing everyone that I encounter that God is a God who knows us personally, and when we go to Him in prayer, He is there listening.
We need to be willing to accept the truth however, that not all prayers are answered with a YES. There are always three possible answers when we pray:
Yes, NO, and Not Yet!
Just like the time Hagar spent with the Lord, praying through our suffering equips us to KNOW God’s character more intimately, to put others before ourselves, and to find purpose in pain.
Taking time every day to have an intimate conversation with the Lord WILL change you.
There is only one result guaranteed by prayer; a changed pray-er!
Prayer works miracles in people.
Today in your journey to understand surrender, I want to encourage you to recall a time in the past, or the present when God asked you to labor through a difficult season.
What did it teach you about His character?
How has God used YOUR time of discomfort to bring comfort to others?
If you were to give God a personal name while praying, what name would you lovingly assign to Him?
The answers to these questions WILL open your mind up to him in many beautiful ways.