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“If we don’t take the baby, you’ll die, and so will she.” Allie Powell reeled at the words. She was twenty-five weeks pregnant.
And then, suddenly, she wasn’t.
Baby Grey weighed fifteen ounces when she was taken by C-section. Doctor reports swirled in Allie’s ears: She has a fifty-fifty chance. She may be too tiny to intubate. There’s a hole in her heart. She very likely has bleeding in the brain.
But Grey did tolerate intubation, the hole in her heart could be fixed with medication, and miraculously, there was no bleeding in the brain. Her eyes, however, remained fused shut when they should have opened within a few days. “Blind,” the doctors predicted.
Allie’s heart sank further with every passing day. “Open her eyes, Lord,” she whispered, gazing at her fragile micro-preemie. “Please, just open her eyes.”
A week passed. Then two. Then three. Hope faded, and darkness descended upon Allie’s spirit as well.
So often we can’t see what our heavenly Father is doing. Sometimes all we know is pain and darkness. It’s isolating, disorienting—and misleading.
Just because we can’t see doesn’t mean there is nothing to see.
In Genesis 21, Sarah drove out her slave, Hagar, along with Ishmael, the baby Hagar had conceived by Abraham. When Hagar’s supply of water was gone, she waited, sobbing, for young Ishmael to die.
But God, whom Hagar had earlier named El Roi, the “God who sees me” (Gen. 16:13), not only spoke to her but “opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink” (21:19). The well was there all along. She just couldn’t see it until the Lord opened her eyes.
When Elisha’s servant quaked in the face of the enemy, Elisha prayed, “‘Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).
Jesus literally opened the eyes of the blind, and, just as miraculously, he can enlighten the eyes of our hearts today (Eph. 1:18). Perhaps his greatest demonstration of hope unseen took place on Calvary.
During the week leading up to Easter one year, Kathryn Sneed learned that her baby girl, who had stumped specialists almost since birth and had been on a feeding tube for months, had tested “borderline” for cystic fibrosis. That Holy Week, Kathryn wasn’t feeling very holy.
But one quote stuck with her: “Easter Saturday: The eternal reminder that God is still at work even when He seems silent.”
“So maybe we are just in that waiting period,” Kathryn wrote on her blog.1 “Maybe it’s Easter Saturday and God is still working. Maybe there is a plan that is better than I could ever imagine.” When we can’t see God, it’s not because he’s disappeared.
Baby Grey’s eyes did open on their own, and her vision is fine. At a year old and eleven pounds, she exhibits developmental delays, and at times, Allie struggles not to worry. “We need to keep our eyes on God and not on our own circumstances,” she said. “I have to trust him.”
May we all strive to keep our eyes wide open to his presence. But even more important, even if our eyes are closed as tightly as Grey’s once were, may we remember that El Roi, the God who sees, is still there. And he is always at work.
God who sees, open my eyes to your presence. Help me trust that when I can’t hear or see you at work, you’re still working. You’ve got a plan, and you’re in control. Thank you that I don’t have to be! In Jesus’s name, amen.
1. How do you feel when you focus on your circumstances?
2. How does your attitude change when you shift your focus onto the character of God?
3. If you could see what God sees when he looks at your child, what would you see?
1. Kathryn Sneed, "When God Seems Silent," Singing Through the Rain (blog), April 5, 2015, http://www.singingthroughtherain.net/2015/04/when-god-seems-silent.html
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