“I didn’t get the job.” I was saying those words for what felt like the 50th time. Little did I know that I would utter that phrase repeatedly in the months that followed. “I know God is good, it just feels like He doesn’t even care.”
I always dread this conversation. You know, the one where you tell the people who have been praying for you, hoping for you to get the job…for your healing…for that situation–that it didn’t happen. It feels like failure. What I dread most about those conversations, though, is the awkward silence that follows. We fumble for words…no one knows what to say, and I feel guilty. Perhaps this is unique to me, but I don’t think it is. It feels like the rug’s been pulled out from under both of us. Again. And it’s my fault. We feel questions rising inside of us that we don’t like, so we push them down. Eventually, you’ll say, “It wasn’t meant to be.” or “Just keep trusting the Lord.” And I’ll say, “I know that this will all work out in the future. I know it will. I’m fine.” Well-meaning friends (of which I have been one), uncertain of what to say, see an opportunity to offer encouragement. “You are finding hope, aren’t you? Don’t you know that the Lord will provide?” I do. And He does. And we both look away from one another and try to find something new to talk about– so that I don’t ask the questions and you don’t have to think about them.
But she doesn’t say any of those things. There is no awkward silence. She looks at me. And she says four little words that will echo in my head over doubts for months to come.
“The Lord sees you.”
She doesn’t promise me that I’ll get to be a teacher someday. She doesn’t tell me that everything will get better. She doesn’t even exhort me to a lofty display of faith. She just speaks truth. And it is enough. It might take months, but she believes that the truth she has spoken is stronger than my doubt, and her belief strengthens me. Encourages me.
Over the last few months she’s repeated that phrase to me occasionally. “The Lord sees you.” Always it has been comforting. Always it has brought me to tears. But today, as it echoed in my mind after yet another rejection, it brought insight. It is her faith that has comforted. The truth that has wrenched my heart. Her words are not an anemic attempt to save me. They are the very marrow of her beliefs. In those words, I hear her faith, see her assurance. I know my situation has not shaken her; I don’t have to apologize for my doubt or my honesty. Her words offer me a place to hurt. To doubt. To heal. A place that is safe, not because it is comfortable, not because it is a temporary situation, not even because there are thousands of other people experiencing it, but because it is within the gaze of The God Who Sees.
As we comfort one another, may it be our faith that bears witness to the Lord rather than our words. May those we comfort hear our steadfast confidence that God is present, good, and watchful; not our frenzied desire to prop up their faith. The Lord calls us to bear one another’s burdens. When we offer advice, encouragement, and exhortation, we offer tools for our brother to bear his own burden. When we humbly speak truth that testifies to our complete reliance on God, we stand shoulder to shoulder with our brother, offering relief and companionship as we bear his burden together.
My prayer is that the Lord makes me a burden carrier.