Tuesday, September 7, 2010

God of the Unseen

Hagar named the Lord, who had been speaking to her, “You Are the God Who Watches Over Me.” She said, “This is the place where I watched the one who watches over me.” This is why the well is named Beer Lahai Roi [Well of the Living One Who Watches Over Me]. It is still there between Kadesh and Bered.  (Genesis 16:13-14, GWT)

Having an "invisible disability" can be one of the most isolating situations in the world.  So many of our initial judgments are made by a quick visual assessment of any given situation.  We determine how good of a parent we think someone may be based upon the behavior we see in their children.  We make ourselves arbiters of how much compassion we think a person deserves based upon how much outward suffering we witness.  If someone appears to be a person of means, we assume they need no help.  And on it goes.

But there can be so much the world doesn't see.  The tremendous, debilitating pain of things like arthritis or Crohn's Disease can put a person out of commission with virtually no one else outside the immediate family being aware.  Diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and hemophilia are serious physical diagnoses that patients endure without anyone ever knowing what arduous routines they are required to follow in daily life.  And things like OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia can keep entire families in upheaval apart from the rest of the world knowing.

As a parent, this can be difficult on so many fronts.  First, there's the judgment from others.  If it's a mental illness, your parenting is critiqued.  If it's another sort of physical disorder that can't be readily seen, it's minimized and you're thought to be overreactive in your angst.  Second, there are the insurance battles.  Getting things appropriately covered, especially in the area of mental health care can be out and out war.  Certain drugs for pain management or other specialty pharmacy can make gaining appropriate, covered care a part-time job.  Third, there are the challenges with schools.  Even if your child is entitled to a 504 or IEP, it may be like pulling teeth to get the educational system to work with you in the best interest of your child.  When a disability is invisible, those who don't live with your child can make incorrect assumptions about their capabilities or needs.  Fourth, because there can be so much irrational behavior surrounding invisible disorders, such fear of the unknown, we parents and caregivers can have our hearts deeply wounded as we watch our child being ostracized.  Seeing our child go uninvited to certain parties or excluded from certain activities because of the ignorance of others is hard to take.  If they only knew --  If they all only knew!

But there is One who understands what others don't.  He's been pushed to the limit just like you have.  (Hebrews 4:15)  He's suffered and come through it in amazing glory, so you can do the same! 

In the Bible, God is called invisible or unseen, at least 8 times.  He knows that out of sight can mean out of mind when it comes to people caring about you.  Yet, in Matthew 6:6 we're assured that He sees what no one else does.  He reminds us of his watchful eye and attentive ear in verses like Psalm 34:15-20.  We can live in confidence knowing that He is the God of both the seen AND the unseen.

What comfort we can find when we realize that our loving Father is aware of all that is hidden from others!  He knows the truth!  He knows about all of our secret suffering, all the extra effort we put forth in private and all of our personal financial struggles.  Most of all, he knows our hearts.  (Proverbs 21:2)  When we struggle with invisible illness, He knows the range of emotions that buffet our souls.  And with His care alone, all of the ugliness that assails us can be transformed into something beautiful in our lives.  He offers us a hope that this ongoing battle of ours is not in vain.  Every trial we face, whether witnessed by others or not, has purpose and meaning in His economy. 

*National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week is September 13-19, 2010.  To learn more, visit http://invisibleillnessweek.com/#

1 comment:

  1. oh this was really really good. was at the park..ds has invisible disability. 10 year old.. tagging mostly moms on the butt. a few odd glances. thankfully i don't have to worry about that when I know My God who loves me.. and sees all. Thank you for this. It was a whisper from God tonight. tearing up a bit thinking of His love.