I clearly remember the Christmas when I was broken. When I felt like heaven was closed and there was no way God was thinking of me.
It was the same Christmas that Jesus put me back together again and reminded me that He sees me. He sees you. Always.
I was 21, in college, and working part-time processing foreclosures for a real estate attorney. My aunt–who was more like a mother–was dying. My family had gone through a series of faith-challenging events that had left us rattled. I was lonely, scared and, frankly, exhausted. Honestly, I hardly recognized myself.
Needless to say, the week before Christmas I was not feeling the spirit. At all! I was seeking joy in lights and tinsel and gifts, but it simply wasn’t there.The week before Christmas I was not feeling the spirit. I was seeking joy in lights and tinsel and gifts, but it simply wasn’t there. Click To Tweet
Our office adopted a family for Christmas and purchased a small tree which, it turned out, they didn’t need. I had our office manager put it in my car so I could deliver it to a friend who couldn’t afford one for Christmas, but as I was leaving work, my friend said she didn’t want one because the family had chosen to be content with what they had. On top of my already foul mood, the refusal of that tree felt insulting.
So there I was, in full Grinch mode, with a live Christmas tree in my backseat and nowhere to take it.
To add insult to injury, when I got in the car, the gas needle read empty, so I stopped at a station where I almost never stopped. Back then, you had to go inside and pre-pay, so off I went. The guy at the next pump looked at my car and, all Christmas smiles, said, “Hey! Are you headed home to decorate your tree?”
I’m sure he didn’t expect my response as I stomped by him. “Nope. I don’t even want the thing. You can have it.”
When I came back outside, a woman was standing by my car. I’ll never forget her. She had long light brown hair and was wearing jeans and a brown sweater. She was maybe ten years older than I was and she looked as tired as I felt. When I walked up, she hesitantly said, “Did I hear you say you were giving away the tree in your car?”
When I offered her my sharp yes, the wildest thing happened.
She started to cry.
Pointing to her car at the next pump over, she said, “I lost my job and just told my kids today that we couldn’t afford a tree for Christmas. And here you are, giving one away.”
I honestly don’t remember if she said anything after that. I was too stunned: literally shocked into silence which, if you know me, rarely happens. I do remember her helping me get the tree out of my backseat and into hers and watching her drive away.
That feeling still hits me when I think about that cloudy, damp, cold evening. A sense of right. Of purpose. Of God never forgetting us and never turning a blind eye to our lives. After all, He says over and over in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us.
See, I was not my best prayerful self during that time of my life. ’d prayed and prayed for God to move, but the sickness and death kept coming. I was angry with Him for what I perceived to be His silent indifference. It felt like my family was at the bottom of a pit waiting for someone to bury us. Adding to the pain, I was coming out of a season of personal choices I had never imagined I was capable of making. I felt forsaken, hopeless, and alone: like God had opted to turn away from me.
I often wonder if that lady at the gas station felt the same. Jobless and alone at Christmas, trying to care for her children, possibly with no help in sight. But there, in the fluorescent lights of a suburban gas station, God stopped us both. He made sure we saw one another. He reminded both of us that He is exactly who Hagar proclaimed him to be in Genesis 16:1, “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.’” God stopped us both. He made sure we saw one another. He reminded both of us that He is exactly who Hagar proclaimed him to be in Genesis 16:13. Click To Tweet
Sometimes it feels like we’re lost in our circumstances or choices, like God has turned His back on us. But He hasn’t. Over and over again, He promises never to leave us or forsake us. He says it in Deuteronomy 31:6 and 8, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5-6… and in so many more verses. My daughter’s childhood favorite, Joshua 1:9, says it clearly: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
We might feel alone and unseen, but we never are. Ever! God is always there, always working one step ahead of us, even when we don’t see it.” Because who’d have ever thought a tree bought for one family would make its way into the hands of a Grinch who God would use to bless another family?
Trust that He sees you and He’s at work, even when circumstances seem dire. And that, as He said in Habakkuk 1:5b, “For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”
Have you ever felt lost and unseen? Looking back, can you see how God revealed that He really did see you? Maybe it was an unexpected phone call or an exceptionally beautiful sunrise. Take a moment to look at those dark times in a different light, searching for those moments when God said, “Hello, dear one. I am right here with you.”