I remember exactly where I was when I cried out to God for help.
My son was six months old, and he was waking up about eight times each night. I was feeling ragged. Like a shell of a person. I felt the way Bilbo Baggins once described himself. “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R.Tolkien
I had already tried “sleep training” my baby, which involved letting him cry during the night instead of going in to comfort him or feed him. It wasn’t for me. It didn’t feel right for this mama. So I soldiered on, waking up again and again during the night to go into his room and love on him, sometimes after only an hour and fifteen minutes.
It was brutal.
One morning I was driving to meet with some other new moms that I had befriended in a lactation group at the hospital. I was feeling exhausted. I probably wasn’t fit to be driving a car, but there I was. I felt alone. Desperate for rescue. I felt like God had forgotten all about me.
I cried out to Him as I drove. I can remember the exact bend in the road where I was driving at that moment.
I said, “I can’t live like this! I’m so tired it’s like I’m not a real person! Don’t You see me? I need help. I feel alone. I feel like You’ve forgotten me.”
It was an S.O.S. And it was an angry one.
The moment passed. I carried on in zombie-like survival mode throughout that day and the days following.
Shortly after that, my baby started being wide awake in the wee hours of the morning. Meaning, when I went in to comfort him at 2:00 AM and settle him back to sleep, he was standing up in his crib wanting to play. No intention of sleeping. Ohhhh, heck no! So I would take him out to the couch in the dark and lay down with him, and he would drift off to sleep. And then if he stirred later during the night I just snuggled in closer on the couch and he went back to sleep. And then I woke up feeling better!
I started doing this every night. And a tiny shred of sanity crept back into my being. I decided to approach my husband about letting the baby sleep in our bed with us. He reluctantly agreed, and my life took a turn for the better. (Thank you, Seth!)
God saw me. He answered my cry for rescue in a way that I didn’t expect. I think when I cried out to Him I wanted Him to just make the baby sleep better. I didn’t realize I could just change the arrangement so that it worked better.
That S.O.S. from 14 years ago has been on my mind recently. I have found myself wondering if God has forgotten about me in this season. I’m just waiting for His direction. Am I supposed to get a job? Which one? Am I supposed to be in ministry instead? Or in addition to a job? Well, where? I’m just waiting for Him to reveal my purpose.
There is a story in the Bible that ministers to me in this. In Genesis 15, God tells Abram that he will father a nation, and that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. God says even though Abram is old, he will indeed have a son of his own flesh and blood.
Abram’s wife Sarai is also old, and she apparently doesn’t fully believe she will give birth to a son for Abram, so she comes up with a plan on her own. In Genesis 16, we see that she tells Abram to sleep with Hagar, the maidservant, so that she can bear him a son.
I think about Sarai's mistake all the time lately. Because it seems just like me! She got impatient. She doubted. So she took matters into her own hands, in a way that was logical to her, and then things went terribly astray. I don’t want to do this when I’m impatient for God to fulfill His promises! It’s so much like me to make a plan and reason things out and try to solve problems within my own capabilities. But God wants me to humbly wait on Him, for His timing, for His fulfillment of my needs. He is Sovereign, and He can do things so much better than I can! In fact He can do them perfectly. But only if I step out of the way instead of hastily trying to “help” Him carry out His plans.
In Genesis 16, we read what happens as a result of Sarai’s (and Abram’s, since he agreed to her plan), mistake.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”
“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
The angel of the Lord also said to her:
“You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
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.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
I love that so much. Hagar was alone in the desert after Sarai mistreated her. I don’t think Hagar is to blame for being pregnant. She was a servant and I assume she had to do whatever her master Abram told her to. So she’s in this big mess that isn’t even her fault, and she’s all alone.
But God sees her.
The angel of the LORD comes to speak to her and give her instruction and hope. He tells her to go back and submit to her mistress, (not easy), and He tells her who her son will be. He tells her to name him Ishmael, which means “God hears.” Hagar calls God El Roi, the God who sees me.
Do you wonder sometimes if God has forgotten you? Have you told Him you just can’t do it anymore? Have you sent up an S.O.S.?
You are not forgotten! God sees you. And I believe He sees me. Sometimes I am on my knees in my little bedroom, praying, and it amazes me that God sees me and hears me even though there are billions of other people on earth right this moment. Yet not one of us is overlooked.
Let me encourage you with Scripture today.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Sometimes God allows trials, because God uses them to grow our character if we let Him.
They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
God asks us to wait on His timing.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
God hears us when we pray! Don’t give up hope, dear one. If you are in a desperate place, cry out to Him and then wait for His answer. It might be a different answer than what you expect.
There’s a song by Lauren Daigle called “Rescue.” I love it big time.
“You are not hidden There's never been a moment You were forgotten You are not hopeless Though you have been broken Your innocence stolen
I hear you whisper underneath your breath I hear your SOS, your SOS
I will send out an army to find you In the middle of the darkest night It's true, I will rescue you…”
Friend, I may or may not know you personally, but if you’re reading this, I prayed for you! I prayed that God would speak to you through my words and remind you that He sees you.