The Way He Sees You

April 10, 2021

by Maria Fontaine

A friend who I’ve known for many years wrote me and asked for my help in answering a prison inmate named Jay who she was ministering to. He had written, saying:

I struggle with anxious worries about my purpose. The Word talks of people being servants, but how can I serve anyone in this condition? I am so afraid I’m not going to be able to put my hand to the plow. What can I do?

The Word talks about coming out from among them. I am chained with people that I can’t console in many ways. What can I do with that?

I’m in need of prayer to find the paths of life. Please pray for me.

No matter where God has placed one of His children, if they will let His light shine through them, it will bring hope to others. It doesn’t matter if it is a physical prison or the prison of fear, doubt, self-condemnation or any others. We as fellow Christians have a responsibility to support one another in love, using His Word and the encouragement that Jesus is always ready to provide for any of His children. Here is what the Lord inspired me to write in response to Jay’s plea for prayer and help:


Dear Jay, please know that you are in my prayers. I can imagine that your struggles must feel so overwhelming at times, beyond what words can describe. It must be very difficult being there where so many of the circumstances can work against your faith. You must have to walk by faith and not by sight a lot of the time, because it’s the only way to keep going in a situation like that.

Although you are facing very challenging circumstances, it might encourage you to know that you’re not alone in this fight to stand strong in the face of what can look like overwhelming troubles. Life brings many difficult, painful, or seemingly hopeless situations that challenge our faith and drive us into Jesus’ arms.

The more we practice looking to Him to show us ways, even small ones, to keep fighting the good fight of faith and to stay as close to Him as we can, the more we begin to see Jesus working in and around and through us.

It can be hard to see the purpose in our lives or how God is working when we are in the midst of difficult times or times of testing. This brought to mind a message written by Pastor Rick Warren, in his book The Purpose Driven Life. I hope this will encourage you:

God has a purpose behind every problem. He uses circumstances to develop our character. In fact, he depends more on circumstances to make us like Jesus than he depends on our reading the Bible. The reason is obvious: You face circumstances twenty-four hours a day.

Jesus warned us that we would have problems in the world. No one is immune to pain or insulated from suffering, and no one gets to skate through life problem-free. Life is a series of problems. Every time you solve one, another is waiting to take its place. …

God uses problems to draw you closer to himself. The Bible says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” Your most profound and intimate experiences with Jesus will likely be in your darkest days—when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great—and you turn to God alone. It is during suffering that we learn to pray our most authentic, heartfelt, honest-to-God prayers. ...

Every problem is a character-building opportunity, and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fiber. Paul said, “We know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character.” What happens outwardly in your life is not as important as what happens inside you. Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever.—Rick Warren1

Jesus promised to be with you always (Matthew 28:20), through whatever you face or have to endure, and He will help you in the toughest situations. The Bible tells us that “we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28). That is a promise you can claim! God will work everything you face for your good—no exceptions—because you are called according to His purpose.

You might wonder what could possibly be the purpose that you are called to in your difficult situation. First and foremost, your purpose as a follower of Jesus is to learn to look to God and trust Him in all that you face.

Also, it is helpful to remember that God’s purpose for you is not about doing something big for God in order to please Him. He asks us to do what we can right where we are, to walk according to His Word, and to share His truth and love with others, as opportunities arise. When Joseph in the Bible was in prison, he did what he could to encourage a few others who God brought to him, but that ended up being an important part of God’s plan. (See Genesis 37–45.)

Jesus knows your heart. “He knows what we are made of and He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). He doesn’t ask you to be perfect. He doesn’t expect you to be a perfect example of Him and His ways. He simply wants you to do your best to follow Him and to bring your tests and trials to Him, knowing that He’ll be your strength and counselor in times of trouble.

Of course, He wants you to make an effort to learn of Him and to grow in your faith. But He doesn’t have a standard that you have to attain to in order to earn His love. In fact, your imperfections and struggles make a way for Him to manifest His forgiveness and show His love and mercy. Seeing God’s mercy to you can motivate others to come to Him for forgiveness, especially those who might otherwise feel they are “too bad” for God.

We aren’t instantly transformed the moment we receive Jesus—it is a lifelong process (2 Corinthians 3:18). It takes time for us to grow and learn day by day. So, just do what you can to make your life an example of God’s presence in you, and you can rest assured that it will be an encouragement to others.

You’ll likely trip up and do something selfish or miss the mark here and there. You’ll make wrong choices at times and you’ll falter and maybe fail every now and then, as we all do. But try to see these mistakes and weaknesses as opportunities to grow stronger in your convictions. Learn the lesson God has for you in each situation. Do what you can to make it right when possible, if you have offended others. Then just keep going, without condemnation, as you rest in the peace of knowing that Jesus has forgiven you.

We are human. The Bible says that He remembers our frame, that we are dust. Jesus is not out to judge you. He wants you to know that He loves you and has received you with open arms. As you rest in that assurance, His love and kindness will become more and more a part of your nature. Of course, it takes time for these attributes to grow; becoming a new creature in Christ is a process.

Jay, my most heartfelt prayer for you is that you can come to rest in the great love that Jesus has for you. Believe in that love. When you trip up and make mistakes, tell Him that you are sorry, but don’t get down on yourself. He loves you just as you are, and that is with all of your human frailties. He will help you improve, but He knows you’ll never be perfect. That is not the goal. We are to have Him in first place in our lives and do the best we can to obey the instruction in His Word.

Even if you find it difficult to do much that to you looks like serving the Lord and others in the environment you live in, just trust that He knows how difficult it is and He is working even these things for your good and the good of others.

A witness or act of service might look small to you, but it might be the beginning of something greater than you could have imagined. Trust that Jesus knows what He’s doing and that there is a purpose in the situation you are in and there is a part for you to play in His magnificent plan.

I would imagine that at times you feel very alone. You probably feel that no one can understand what you’re going through. I think it would help to remember that His love for you, Jay, is personal. He cares about you more than anyone else ever could. The bond between you and Him is a one-on-one relationship that will never end and will only grow stronger and deeper and sweeter as time passes.

I haven’t lived in your situation, so you might feel that I don’t understand. And it’s true, I don’t fully understand. But you can rest assured that Jesus does. He understands very well, and He wants you to know without a doubt that He loves you, forgives you, and cares for you. He loves you so much that He died for you. Trust Him and gain the peace that comes from believing in His great love for you.

I’ll pray that you are able to rest in His love and not worry about what you can’t do. He knows every detail about your situation, and He has a plan and purpose even in this, and part of that is to draw you closer to His heart of love. He said that His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting. His love is unconditional; it doesn’t shrink or disappear when we fail or mess up.

The Lord made a promise to you the day you chose to open your heart to Him. He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). No matter what happens, He’s at your side. He has your back, because He loves you. A beautiful passage to hold on to when you feel like you can’t go on and you wonder if something has separated you from Jesus is Romans 8:35–39:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The day He received you as His own and came into your heart, He forgave every sin you ever committed or will yet commit. He knew every flaw, every fault, every mistake, every sin, every struggle you would face. He chose to pour out His love and forgiveness without measure. He gave His life for you in love. He knows everything about you—your thoughts, your dreams, your regrets, your temptations, and the desires of your heart. His love for you will never change.

May you rest in the assurance of that love, and trust that He will guide you each day and show you how to best “let His light shine” even in the darkest places. As you do, people will see in you the God who has poured out His infinite love and grace upon you.

I will close this note to you with two excerpts that I think you might enjoy. God bless and keep you!

Resurrection Power

Faith is trusting what the eye cannot see! Eyes see storms; faith sees Noah’s rainbow. Your eyes see your faults; your faith sees your Savior. Your eyes see your guilt; your faith sees his cleansing blood. Your eyes look in the mirror and see a sinner, a failure. But by faith you look in the mirror and see a robed prodigal bearing the ring of grace on your finger and the kiss of your Father on your face.—Max Lucado2

The Song He Longs to Hear

In his later years Beethoven spent hours playing a broken harpsichord. The instrument was worthless. Keys were missing, strings stretched. It was out of tune, harsh on the ears. Nonetheless, the great pianist would play till tears came down his cheeks. You’d think he was hearing the sublime, and he was. He was deaf. Beethoven was hearing the sound the instrument should make, not the one it did make.

Maybe you feel like Beethoven’s harpsichord. Out of tune, inadequate. Your service ill-timed, insignificant. Ever wonder what God does when the instrument is broken? How does the Master respond when the keys don’t work? Does he demand a replacement? Or does he patiently tune until he hears the song he longs to hear? I want you to know that the Master Musician fixes what we can’t and hears music when we don’t. And he loves to hear the music that comes from your life.—Max Lucado3

1 The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 193, 194, 197.

2 Max Lucado, Upwords devotionals, March 24, 2021: “Resurrection Power,”

3 Max Lucado, Upwords devotionals, March 22, 2021: “The Song He Longs to Hear,”