God sees you, God sees me, even when we feel like a number to everyone around us. There is compassion in simply asking someone, “What is your name?
Last week I ate dinner with my husband and son at a little outdoor fishette. My husband ordered while my son and I found a table and he told me that he had just seen a woman outside on the sidewalk with a sign that said homeless. . . and she was in a wheelchair. “Mom,” he explained, “she is homeless and in a wheelchair. Wouldn’t that be worser?”
It would be, I said. As we ate we decided when we left we would go say hello and give her some money. I walked up to her and introduced us and said how my son had noticed her. I said, “I have rheumaod arthritis and am grateful I am not in a wheelchair so far, but my son noticed you because he is really sensitive to those things.”
And I asked her what her name was. . . As I noticed the sign said she was also deaf– and diabetic. She said she had been reading lips since she was four years old. She explained how difficult it was to try to eat something “healthy” (hard to do on the streets) every four hours to keep her diabetics in check.
We talked for a bit and she shared part of her story and what street she was sleeping on that night. She is waiting for paperwork from the government to come through and then she could get a bed somewhere. She was a sweetheart.
Her name is Ethel. . . And that is important because I wanted to know her name. I wanted to see her, I wanted to be able to pray for her by name. And before either of us even mentioned anything regarding faith, our conversation was, “What is your name?” “Ethel.” “Ethel. Will you pray for me?”
I had every intention of asking her name and then telling her I would pray for her, but she beat me to it (smile) and told me how faithful God is and how He would provide for her. She knows for certain, God sees me.
Our family returned to the car with a heavy heart at how unfair life is. We wondered what else we could do. My son and I decided we would put some bags together this summer to pass out to people on the streets with nutrition bars, water, band aids, etc. But I cannot stop thinking about Ethel.
So often as patients, we are a number, a clip board status, a hospital room number, a curtain number at ER, a social security number, a account number to bill. We are not us. We are not really seen.
And when I read this scripture, of Jesus asking “What is your name?” it reminds me of how specifically He knows what we need to hear. Jesus didn’t need to know this man’s name in order to heal him. But he knew that by asking, it would be healing in itself.
God sees you, even when you feel invisible to all of those around you. God knows your name. In turn, remember how wonderful it is when someone asks you for your name, and return the gift. When you meet someone, whether at the lab, or the infusion center, or the waiting room, and you start a conversation, don’t forget to kindly ask, “What is your name?”
Prayer: Lord, even though You already knew this man’s name, You knew how precious it would be for him to know he was really seen by You. He was not one more man to heal; You didn’t make him feel like a number. He was an individual who was precious in Your sight and You had plans for his life. Remind me to offer this same gift of acknowledgement to those I encounter so they can see a glimpse of Your love through me.
About the author:
Lisa Copen is the founder Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill on their journey with illness and pain, including daily devotionals. Rest Ministries also sponsors National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. She is a speaker and the author of various books on chronic illness including Why Can’t I Make People Understand and Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend She has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for nearly 20 years and resides in California with her husband and 9-year-old son.
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Have you ever felt like just a patient, a number, and then had someone really see you and ask you for your name? How did it change your perspective on the person and his or her intentions? How does it make you feel to know God sees me?