Giving When We Have Nothing to Give
“So Hagar gave this name to the Lord Who spoke to her, ‘You are a God Who sees.’” Genesis 16:13a (NLV)
I was on my way home from the store when I saw her standing there, feet planted between two dingy piles of melting snow on the corner of a busy intersection.
The cardboard sign in her hands broadcasted her desperation, and my stomach churned with empathy when I read the sloppy scrawl. But what could I do? I had three gallons of milk in the trunk, two $1 bills in my wallet and a pack of pink bubble-gum on the dashboard.
When the traffic light turned green, I turned my head away from the quandary on the corner and steered my van toward home.
I’d driven no more than a mile when a thought lodged in my mind like a holy whisper and refused to leave: Go back, and let her know you see her.
I thought about how I’d looked the other way when I’d turned that corner at the stoplight as if the woman in need were invisible.
What hurts worse, I wondered: the pain of desperation or the pang of disregard?
Reluctantly, I returned to that busy intersection and left my car in a nearby parking lot.
I grabbed the wrinkled bills from my wallet and headed toward the woman, fears simmering with every step. What if she’s offended by my small offering? What if I just make things worse?
“Ma’am, how can I help you?” I asked when I reached the woman with the weathered face.
“I need work,” she said with quiet resolve. Then her troubled tale spilled from chapped lips and a raw heart.
I didn’t mend her maladies or judge her wounds. I just stood on that wind-whipped corner and listened. Because sometimes the simplest way to affirm someone’s significance is to take time to hear her story.
What happened next wasn’t like a script from a poignant Hallmark movie or a plan from a tidy Sunday school lesson. It was more like a snapshot from an awkward junior high dance.
“I don’t really know how to help,” I admitted, my eyes brimming with hot tears. “But I do know Jesus, and I know He really loves you ...”
I glanced at the parking lot, longing to leave. But before I walked away, I asked, “Could I just pray for you?”
Much to my surprise, the weary woman gave a quiet nod and set down her cardboard sign.
In Genesis 16, we find another desperate woman caught in a web of woeful circumstances. Hagar isn’t planted on the corner with a cardboard sign; rather, she’s plodding through the desert with an unborn child and a forlorn soul. And just when her situation seems hopeless, God sends a messenger to encourage her heart.
Interestingly, the messenger’s words don’t immediately change Hagar’s plight. But they promptly change her perspective. The woman who once felt unseen now finds herself undone by a simple truth. God sees her. He knows her pain. He has a plan.
I’ll be honest. I’m often tempted to ignore someone’s need simply because I don’t know what to do. But the story of Hagar reminds us that even when we don’t know what to do, we can point to the One we know, the One who sees.
We may not have a solution for every problem, but we carry a salve for every soul. As believers in Jesus, we carry the hope of the gospel. We know a God who is present in pain and patient in trouble, lavish in mercy and longsuffering in love. And we know our Creator treasures every person He’s created on this spinning globe.
I declared this gentle truth over the woman on the corner that day. And when I finished praying, she thanked me through a haze of tears.
“What’s your name?” I asked as I bid my new sister farewell.
“Daisy,” she replied, her pink lips upturning in a subtle smile. I returned the smile and watched as she stood a little taller, her shoulders no longer hunched and drooping.
Then I walked back to my van and headed for home for the second time that day. But this time as I rounded the corner, I didn’t look the other way. I gave Daisy a wave through my window and let my eyes declare what I hoped her heart was beginning to believe: You are not invisible. You are invaluable. The God Who Sees, sees you.
Dear Jesus, forgive me for the times I’ve ignored the needs of Your people in my path. Use me to bring Your hope to the hopeless and Your presence to those in pain. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Job 34:21, “For God carefully watches the goings on of all mankind; he sees them all.” (TLB)
Zechariah 2:8, “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’” (NKJV)
Are you the woman you want to be? Proverbs 31 Ministries is partnering with Chrystal Evans Hurst as we read her newly released book, She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You as our next FREE Online Bible Study. Recognize the woman you were meant to be as you set out on a journey to find direction, purpose and true satisfaction. You can sign up for the study here.
Join Alicia Bruxvoort at her blog for more encouragement today.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is there someone in your life who needs to know she’s seen by God? Prayerfully consider how to encourage her today.
Hagar’s story of God-encounters continues in Genesis 21:8-20. Read it and ask God to speak personally to you.
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