“Who gives this woman?”
We’ve all heard the pastor ask this question at the beginning of traditional wedding ceremonies. It’s customary for the father of the bride to say, “Her mother and I do.”
I heard it just this week at my own daughter’s ceremony. Of course, I was silent, but inside I was shouting, “You bet we do!” Our darling girl was marrying a wonderful young man and it was easy to share in their joy.
Not every woman experiences the joy our family did. Genesis 16 records a lowly maidservant, pressed into surrogate baby delivering service for her master, Abram. When she became pregnant, her relationship with mistress Sarai deteriorated to the point of abuse.
Hagar ran from Sarai’s mistreatment into the wilderness. Scared. Alone.
She had to have been wondering, Does anyone see me? Is there anyone who cares?
The tapes in her head must have been playing on repeat: Nothing special. Nothing significant. Invisible. Am I a wasted life?
Could she have done something different? What if she’d treated Sarai a little better? So many regrets.
And then she encountered the Angel of the Lord, who told her she would have a son, name him Ishmael (God hears), and that the Lord had heard of all her misery.
But she didn’t even acknowledge being heard. She was too astounded by being seen. After being a servant, present but unnoticed all her life, Hagar held the gaze of the Living One who sees. She had met El Roi.
We all need to be seen. Some of us more than others (am I right, introverts?), but everyone has an innate need to know that someone values their presence and cares about their wellbeing.
Some of us have even had a little too much experience feeling invisible. Or, when we are seen, it’s only as an opportunity for someone to take advantage of us. Like Hagar, we only want to run away. When faced with the choice to present our hearts fully to Jesus, we shrink back, not knowing what sort of reception to expect. We often forget that not only does He see us, but that He looks at us with pure adoration.
This weekend at my daughter’s wedding, the groom couldn’t take his eyes off his lovely bride. Not only did he see her, but he expressed utmost love and joy at seeing her. One of the highlights of the ceremony was his little Snoopy dance after the “you may kiss the bride” instruction.
As the pastor reminded us, marriage is a beautiful picture of Jesus and His bride, the Church. It’s easy to believe that He’s crazy about others—the ones who have their act together, the ones who come from solid families, the ones who seem to do and say all the right things. But it’s a little harder to trust that it’s us standing at the end of the aisle in the white dress, the one He eagerly awaits under the wedding arch.
The more we know and trust Him, the easier it is to realize that it’s us He’s waiting for. We can confidently and unhesitatingly give this woman when we understand that the way He sees us isn’t the way the world does. Not only are we wholly visible, but we are that gorgeous bride He can’t take His eyes off of.
Please continue the conversation in the comments. What’s a moment you realized God sees and cares about your needs and concerns?