I remember reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl several years ago. In it he shared some of his experiences in one of the death camps during the Holocaust. At the core of what he was saying was the idea that most of those who survived the camps were people who had a purpose or reason to live. They had something—or someone—to come back to or live for.
I think of our all too human need to attain some significance in this life and the great longing to know that we matter—that we are seen and our lives are not in vain.
And then I consider Hagar. She was not the classically chosen mother of the promise God gave Abraham. She was the woman Sarah put in the arms of her husband Abraham out of fear and doubt that God might not fulfill His promise to give Abraham an heir that would actually come from
Sarah’s womb. And even in that reckless choice of Sarah’s, God was gracious to Hagar and brought Abraham his son, Ishmael. When I first learned this story in full, after coming to faith, the conclusion I drew from it was that Sarah became impatient and tried to fulfill God’s promise on her own in a cultural context.
The great thing about God is that He knew and understood in advance what would transpire. And even more wonderful, He cared about Hagar when Sarah was done with her. She cast Hagar out into the wilderness with her son, Ishmael. In response, Hagar says to God in Genesis 16:13 “You are the God who sees me.”
And this is a core piece of my faith in God. HE sees me. When no one else did—and even now when it feels at times like no else does and my pain is bigger than my faith in some dark moment—HE sees me. What does that mean to me? My life matters to Him who created me. I am not just one in a crowd. He who created the stars in the sky and every grain of sand on the shore, He who knows the number of hairs on my head and the dreams and doubts in my heart–sees me. My life is not in vain, no matter what transpires in the years I draw air on this planet. And, for me that translates into significance.
I see streets and buildings–monuments of men created to honor certain heroic people of a particular time. And right now some of those are being destroyed because we live in a completely different time. But the true significance of those people and their choices cannot be erased in the reality of history or in the eyes of God. The good–and the bad remain. The monuments may not. But then even nations rise to fall, eventually.
I think a lot of people are seeking to be part of something larger and more significant in their lives so they can feel they are important–that their lives are not in vain. I often feel the pull on me in this direction. I feel more sure in myself when I know the Lord is leading us into a special project or when I am recording a new album or writing a book. I realize I have a voice in this wilderness and some people actually hear it–and, as a result, I feel much better about myself. Such is the siren call to which my ego responds. All of the sudden my life matters.
But the reality is my life has never stopped being meaningful in the eyes of God.
There used to be a saying in the church that went something like this: “I am living for an audience of One.”
Those of us who call Him Lord need to remember that no matter how invisible or insignificant or obscure our words, deeds, lives may seem to the general population on the planet, He is the God who sees us… each one of us. And therefore, my friends, our lives have meaning and purpose as we yield them to Him. We are seen. We are greatly loved. And our lives are not in vain.
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