“Jesus heard they had thrown him out and when he found him...” John 9:35
Do you ever feel invisible or wonder if anyone ever wonders about you? If so, you may identify with the blind man in John 9. You don’t need to live his story to feel his pain. Our stories differ. Our need for love does not.
Imagine spending your whole life in total darkness. And totally alone.
To be born blind was viewed as a curse. God’s judgment for sin. John 9:2,34 The punishment? Rejection. Isolation. Poverty. He can't work. So he begs. He can't see. Nor is he seen. Most beggars are invisible. To everyone but themselves.
So how does he see himself? Most likely as others do: unworthy of notice or attention.
Yet this ‘nobody’ has captured the attention of Jesus. He 'saw a man blind from birth'. (Jn. 9:1) Jesus noticed. He also restored his vision and dignity. But the Pharisees won't have it. They intend to discredit his story. As well as Jesus. Yet he won't budge. 'Jesus must be from God!'. So they evict him from the synagogue.
A synagogue is the hub of community life. A place to pray, worship, study the Torah. It's family. A place to belong. Where you're known and loved.
This is no ejection from a building. It's an eviction from a family. It's exile. You don't have to face the level of rejection he did to feel the level of pain he felt.
All it takes is one close friend who starts avoiding you for no clear reason. Or a parent who never notices, celebrates you or tries to understand you. Or a spouse so preoccupied with their own lives, they hardly notice you. Or you may even pour your heart out to God but all you ever hear from Him is silence.
James Friesen says the heart is not only wounded by the presence of bad things, like abuse. But also by the absence of good things. Like attention, affection, acceptance or approval. Their absence can break your heart just like abuse breaks a bone. The wound is just as real. The pain just as deep.
Do you know this pain? The pain of being forgotten? Overlooked? Alone?
David felt it. So he told God about it. “Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge. No one cares for my life.” Ps. 142:4 For David, it wasn't the solitude that hurt most. It was the pain of realizing that no one cares.
Yet, this isn't self-pity. He doesn't use his pain to get sympathy. This is prayer. Self-pity turns inward. I know because I do it. I let the pain of rejection or neglect consume me until it's all I see. David turns his attention on God and his pain into prayer.
And God heard him! As He heard Hagar. Forsaken. Mistreated, ‘the angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert’. Genesis 16:7 God noticed her! And she noticed that He noticed. So she called Him ‘the God who sees me’.
What's God like? He notices those that everyone else forgets. Ezek. 34, Luke 15 John 9:35 says ‘when He found him’. Why go after him? He’s already been healed.
His eyes, yes. His heart? Broken. Again. And Jesus loves him too much to leave him alone. Being left alone is what broke his heart in the first place. It also broke God's. Who loves him too much to let that happen again. So He sends His Son. Jn. 5:19
Once He heard the news, Jesus did what good friends do. He 'found him'. Many who grieve say that what helps most is the presence of a friend. Why? What stings most is a deeply felt sense of absence. A friend is gone. So presence matters. A lot.
This man needs a friend. A knock on the door. Jesus knew it. So He came. He even entrusted his new friend with His true identity! v. 35-37, Daniel 7:13 I love Jesus for this. To reveal His identity to this 'nobody' is a sign of trust and honor. John 2:24
Friend, if his story is at all like yours, so is the ending. Someone's looking for you!
Do you feel invisible? Overlooked? Unimportant? Left out of the circle. He not only sees your broken heart. He feels it. He doesn't want you to be alone. So He comes.
Don't miss the one friend who does notice you by fixating on the ones who don't.
And if you're blessed with friends who do notice you, remember. So does He. Like any loving father, there’s a place in His heart for you alone. A place no one else can fill. There's also a place in your heart for God. It too is a place no one else can fill.
To hope for such a friend is not a vain hope. Jesus, the risen Christ is such a friend. Any ache you feel for such a friend is there because He is. It's His pull. His knock at the door.
Question for Reflection: Do you feel forgotten? Does the idea of a God who sees you feel like another empty promise? Have you opened the door and found no one there? Does His absence feel more real than His presence? If so, I pray you'll find Him at your door. I also ask you to risk an honest prayer into an empty doorway. "God, where are you?"
Next Glimpses Post: "But I need love with skin on!" I know God loves me but if He really cares, what about my need for human love? How do I rest my heart in God's love when I also need the love of a spouse, a child, a friend or a family? How do I find comfort when the only ones who've ever loved me well have either left me, been taken by death or only exist in my imagination?