Studying the names of God, I continue to reflect on the name Hagar, the Egyptian Slave of Abraham and Sarah, gave to God in her encounter with Him. It was a moment of great despair and hopelessness for her. Despair and hopelessness until she realized that God saw her and cared about her.
As I continue to think about this concept that God sees us, I continue to be reminded of times in my own life when things seemed hopeless, but then God reminded me that I was not alone, that He saw me and He cared. I shared the first two times in my life – at ages 14 and 33 – when God revealed Himself to me so vividly in The God Who Sees Me – Part 1 and The God Who Sees Me – Part 2
Perhaps the greatest time God showed up for me was when I was fighting for my life in a battle with an aggressive cancer. After a mastectomy, the surgeon apologized to me because he said he had to cut a lot more nerves under my arm than he wanted to, including the main nerve running through my underarm down my side. He had found so many lymph nodes full of cancer and he wanted to make sure he got all of them so he cut away more than he preferred to do. He said I would have more pain than normal, but he felt trying to save my life was more important than inflicting some pain. I totally agreed with him. I wanted to live. If that meant some pain, so be it.
Meeting the cancer doctor for the first time he told me my cancer was a very aggressive type and far advanced. The type of cancer they found would also not respond to any further treatment after chemotherapy and radiation. His first words to me will never be forgotten. He said:
The odds are not in your favor!
After undergoing 16 chemotherapy treatments with three different powerful drugs, I began a radiation treatment which would include 35 sessions radiating not only the chest area where the cancer had been removed, but my underarm, the left side of my neck and the left side of my upper back. Because so many lymph nodes had been cancerous, the doctors wanted to radiate all the lymph nodes in that area of my body to make sure any cancer cells left were destroyed.
Starting the first radiation treatment I was already exhausted from almost nine months of chemotherapy. Several hours on two different days were spent in the radiation department as they worked to set up the computer to deliver the radiation to all four parts of my body. They had to be careful to avoid my heart and my lung as the cancer had been on my left side. Then the day arrived to begin treatment.
As I entered the room where the treatment would be given, I saw a sign on the door “Danger! Radiation!”. The technicians helped me on the table, working to get my body placed in the exact position needed so the radiation rays would reach the right places. They then left the room and the heavy door slammed shut. I lay on the table in a very painful position and watched the big x-ray machine begin to descend toward my chest. Feeling so frightened, I never felt so alone.
As tears ran down my cheeks, I cried out to God telling Him I felt so alone. At that precise moment, the elevator music they had been playing stopped and a song from my childhood came over the sound system.
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!
The song was so comforting reminding me that I was not alone. When the treatment was finished I thanked the technicians for playing that song. They did not know what I was talking about. The music they were playing was canned music already programmed and that song was not on the program. They also said they did not hear that song.
But I heard it. The God Who Sees Me – the God who saw Hagar – was there. He saw me, heard my cry, He cared.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.