Why do you make me see … Why do you cause me to look …? – Habakkuk 1:3
I didn’t want to see it. The images were too disturbing. I couldn’t quite stomach the harsh realities that were flashing before me—stark, abrasive, odious and discouraging. The towering HD quality screen perched before us brought every single pixel of the devastating story to a larger than life virtual actuality for me and the 15,000 other women.
We were at a conference in Sydney, Australia. It’s a gathering held once a year and is attended by women from every corner of the globe. Olive skinned women dressed in bejeweled saris from India; fair skinned blonds from Denmark; dark-haired exotic Russians, and black French speaking sisters from some obscure island I’d never heard of, all shared the same space for this momentous affair. This convention, one of the largest of its kind, is intentional in its focus. It’s not just a once a year experience but has rallied into a sisterhood—a trans-global connection of women seeking to serve Christ, to pursue justice, and to change humanity through specific outreaches and ministries.
This year, as we celebrated the accomplishments of the previous 12 months and listened to the new goals set forth by the leadership for those before us, our hearts sank with compassion as we beheld the faces of women who’d been tortured at the hands of brain washed child soldiers in Uganda. Under the supervision of the LRA, these children had been made to commit some of the most terrifying crimes and injustices that you could even imagine, leaving people wounded and scared for life, barely able to function in the normal realms of society. We were being commissioned to help.
The sniffles from emotionally devastated women rang out like a well-arranged chorus in the arena as the video presentation played. Tears streamed down our cheeks and we passed the Kleenex down the rows. We were all moved.
On more than one occasion, I lowered my gaze unable to continue watching what was unfolding before me. And I admit that on the second weekend (when the conference is repeated for a second influx of attendees), I snuck out during this segment of the event. I just couldn’t do it again. Didn’t want to look at the mayhem and chaos that caused me to feel those horrifying emotions, loose my appetite for the rest of the day, and stay awake at night nursing the torturous images in my mind.
I didn’t want to see.
I didn’t want to look.
And maybe … just maybe … you don’t either.
No, no. Not at some random pictures or script of someone else’s saga, but at your own. It’s the startling clear reality that you are facing and being made to see; to participate in; to sit on the sidelines watching in despair.
- Your wayward child squandering away his life
- Your financial portfolio wasting away to nearly nothing
- Your breached relationship going from good to bad to worse
- Your ambitions becoming ashes in the burning flame of reality
- Your neighborhood becoming infested with an ever-increasing amount of what you were certain you’d be able to avoid by moving here
- The state of politics leaning in a direction you’re certain will lead to demise
- Moral decay creeping in less and less conspicuously every moment
Whatever it is, you want it to stop. The sight of it makes your stomach turn into tightened knots. Your emotions can barely stand one more minute. But even now with the new year upon you, it continues. You thought it’d be over by now—these scenes flashing before you, a story you never thought your life would tell. But like a ship sinking under the washing waves of the ocean, it’s still going down and you know for sure that unless there is an intervention soon, nothing will be able to save the circumstance unfolding before you.
So, until this chapter changes, at the very least you don’t want to look. You’d rather disengage, pull away and find something else to focus on. You, like Habakkuk seeing the demise of his beloved people progress before him, would rather turn your attention onto the heavens to ask:
Why do you make me see?
Why do you make me look?
It’s a good question: why does He make us look? Why does He not only allow but often put us in a position where we must have clear view of situations we’d rather not. Seems like a God who loves us so fiercely wouldn’t mind giving us a break from our stuff, our circumstance, our life every now and then, right? Which is why His response to us through the pages of Scripture might be surprising …
“Look!” He told the prophet Habakkuk. “Observe! Be Astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—You would not believe if you were told.”
Instead of giving us a pass out of the next session—permission to opt out of the reality that has become our own, God suggests that remaining fixed on the difficulty is the route to choose. Why? Because seeing is believing.
If He simply told you, you wouldn’t behold the full depth and height, the full wonder and amazement, the full majesty and glory that only an experience can provide. So, He’s decided to show you—to let you see the chaos, the devastation, the damage, the ruin, the waste, and the loss—so that when He invades, you’ll not miss one bit of it.
Light is brightest against the backdrop of darkness.
Diamonds are most brilliant against the backcloth of black velvet.
So, don’t be detoured my friend. If He’s not speaking, it’s most likely cause He wants you looking.
Set your face like a flint and …
Soon and very soon, He’s going to take your breath away.
In fact, if you lean in and look closely, you’ll most likely find that He already is.
Priscilla Shirer, Going Beyond Ministries