July 14, 2021
On the Fringe
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"She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,' for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.'" Genesis 16:13 (NIV)
I was surrounded on all sides. A single drop of sweat trickled down my back, and I knew before long my entire body would be shellacked, exposing me for the sweaty imposter I was. I didn't belong here ... at least, I didn't feel like I did.
Quickly scanning the room, I hoped to find an exit or a broom closet to cram myself in. I wasn't picky; I was desperate. And then I saw it - a bathroom. Bingo! With hurried steps and head down, I beelined for my sanctuary.
Two minutes later... as I sat crumpled atop a toilet seat, safely locked behind the stall door, my tears began to fall. I silently chastised myself for even thinking I could be here in the first place. Who was I kidding?! I was an outsider. A fringe-friend at best.
And these women's lives had been woven together for years. They bantered over shared activities, giggled, recalled inside jokes and offered knowing nods to one another. These women were all wonderful women. They weren't intentionally trying to leave me out. I knew that. And yet my heart still felt a bit forgotten.
More tears later ... the face reflected back in my compact mirror was quite literally a hot mess. My cheeks were stained with streams of salty mascara. My nose was beyond stuffed from stifled sobs, and as I had feared, I had completely sweated through my shirt. Any chance of a graceful re-entry was completely out of the question. Escape was my only option. So I sheepishly snuck out a side door, made a run for home and prayed no one had noticed.
But somebody had noticed. And that "someone" didn't let me get very far in my escape before lovingly reminding me of these words from Genesis: "...‘You are the God who sees me,' for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me'" (Genesis 16:13).
God saw me. In that stall, I was not alone. The Lord was with me in my loneliness, just as He was with Hagar when she spoke these words from Genesis.
You see, Hagar was a woman who knew the heartache of a life lived on the fringe. She was an Egyptian maidservant who found herself tangled up in the middle of Abraham and Sarah's story. Mistreated and shunned for a choice she did not make for herself, Hagar intimately knew the grief of feeling forgotten. She, too, felt desperate. She, too, attempted to flee. And if anyone needed a bathroom stall to cry in, it was her!
But God saw her. In that desert, she was not alone. The angel of the Lord encouraged her to return. He promised her numerous descendants. And later in the story when Hagar found herself banished and alone in the desert again, the Lord met her again. She was not forgotten.
And neither are we. Ever.
Friends, if you've ever felt forgotten, overlooked, left out or on the fringe, your tears have not gone unnoticed. The Lord sees you, too! Our heavenly Father hears our cries. Scripture declares He is "... close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18, NIV).
We can confidently cling to this promise. Why? Because our Lord has been on a mission to save us since the very beginning - to adopt us into His family as His children (John 1:12) who are chosen, (1 Peter 2:9) known (Psalm 139:16) and loved. (Romans 5:8)
As for me and my bathroom stall breakdown, I never did return that day ... I wasn't ready. But since then, the Lord has been graciously nurturing the roots of His Truth within my heart. And I am confident that, if the harsh winds of this world leave me feeling forgotten again, I will not run away. Instead, I will run toward my Savior, to whom I always belong. I pray you will do the same.
Heavenly Father, thank You for being the God who sees me. The God who loves me and accepts me even when it feels as though others don't. Empower me to face this day confidently, knowing I belong to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Sometimes words are not enough. When someone you love is navigating hard seasons, it's natural to want to try to fix it. But when the pain is present and the heartache hasn’t healed, it’s hard to know how best to love a hurting friend. We put together a new collection in our bookstore called "For a Hurting Friend" with resources to encourage her in the middle of whatever she is walking through. Click here to shop the collection.
Connect with today's devotion author, Corrie Gerbatz, through her website.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (NIV)
When was the last time you felt on the fringe or forgotten? Reach out to the Lord! Share your heart with Him today during a time of devotion. And let us know your thoughts in the comments!
© 2021 by Corrie Gerbatz. All rights reserved.