A few days ago, I was walking along a busy city centre street, when I noticed a man in a high viz, fluorescent orange jacket, meandering slowly towards me. He was sweeping the street with a broom in one hand, and pushing a cart along with the other, into which he was depositing waste.

In the loveliest of ways, he looked up, looked me in the eye, and smiled.

“Excuse me ma’am,” he said, “I hope you won’t mind me saying this, but you’re a beautiful woman.”

I returned his gaze, smiled, said thank you, and continued on my way.

It was such a small gesture, from a complete stranger, and others might have responded differently. But, for me, in that moment, and in the context of that particular day, when I was feeling anything but beautiful, it was exactly what God knew I needed to hear.

I sensed God had seen me.


Do you ever feel unseen?

Sometimes I feel ‘unseen’.

It doesn’t take much for me to feel forgotten, invisible and taken for granted, the unspoken assumption being that I ‘will be there’; that I ‘will do’ whatever it is that needs doing.

There are days when I choreograph my schedule like a pro, eating on the run, juggling all the multiple demands that keep coming my way, slotting everything in like some gigantic Jenga puzzle.

It doesn’t matter who it is – colleagues, family members, friends, neighbours – all of them are well-meaning. But their combined asks can feel relentless, each oblivious of the others. All too often, my feelings are misunderstood, my attempts at asking for support are ignored, and my efforts seem to fall flat on the floor.

I wonder whether anyone ever notices how hard I’m working, whether anyone realises how infrequently I’m sitting on the sofa; whether anyone really cares.

Sometimes I even feel unseen by God.

My prayers seem to hit the ceiling and bounce straight back again. I struggle to hear his voice and feel his love. Despair and disappointment threaten to creep in and steal my joy.

Maybe you can relate to these feelings? Maybe you have been here too?


Did you know God sees you?

There’s a story in the Bible, where God is called ‘El Roi’, which means, ‘the God who sees me’. It features a woman called Hagar, and is found in Genesis 16.

Years before this story, God has promised Abraham that his offspring will form a great nation (Genesis 12: 2-3). But here he is now, heading for 100, and still childless. It seems there’s a slight dichotomy between what God has promised, and what Abraham’s reality looks like.

In a desperate attempt to have a child, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, suggests that Abraham should sleep with her Egyptian servant girl, Hagar. He duly does, and Hagar becomes pregnant. Sarah soon becomes jealous and starts to mistreat Hagar. Then later, after her son has been born and while he’s still small, Hagar decides enough is enough, and runs away with him, heading into the wilderness.

As she sits by a spring of water, having given up on life, God sees her heartbreak and tenderly ministers to her.

It is in this context that he is declared, “El Roi”.

In the world’s eyes, Hagar is a lowly servant girl, far from home. But to God, she matters. He sees her anguish. He sees her rejection. He sees her sadness.

And because God sees her, when nobody else does, Hagar declares, “You are the God who sees me.”


Do you believe God sees you?

If God is the God who sees Hagar, is he not also the God who sees you and me?

Like Hagar, he sees our burdens, our mistreatment, our heartbreak, our anguish, our rejection, our sadness, our disappointment, our isolation, our desperation … and he tenderly ministers to us.

He simply says, “I see you.”

When God sees you, you are not invisible. When God notices you, you are not forgotten. When God is tender with you, you are not taken for granted.

He knows you intimately. He loves you deeply. He sees you just as you are.  


Are you in a place, at the moment, where you feel seen, or unseen, by the people around you? Why do you think this is?

Have you ever felt seen by God, whilst being unseen by others? If so, what did he do or say to help you feel that way, and how did you respond to him?

As ever, constructive comments are welcome below.

Please note: This is my ‘thought for the month’ reflection for January. (You can find all my ‘thought for the month’ reflections here.)

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash.



  1. Thank you for sharing this Jo. I feel unseen many times and can totally relate to your experience. How wonderful that that man had the courage to tell you that you are beautiful. How precious. I have often felt unseen by people, but also by God. In those moments, He often sends something or someone to encourage me. A number of years ago, I was on my way to a prayer meeting. I was going through a difficult time and felt abandoned by God. As I cried my way along the road, I sensed Jesus sitting next to me in the car. The answer to my questions of “Where are you Lord? I can’t see you or hear you and I’m broken”, was “I’m right here next to you; I hear your pain and see your tears.” Keep sharing these precious stories and reflections with us Jo. Thank you.

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      Thank you Janet. I appreciate you letting me know that you relate to what I was trying to communicate in this thought for the month. When we feel unseen, that’s when we need God to send us the encouragement we need. I’m really glad you’ve had that experience too.

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