Seeing People as God Does by Reema Goode
Someone once asked how my family can love Arab Muslims. The awful truth is that we are incapable of loving anyone, even each other, without Gods divine intervention. God is love. Were not. But thankfully, God shares.
God sometimes helps my heart to care about people by letting me see them just a little bit more the way He does. One such experience happened during a visit to a rich family in our city. My friends and I were warmly welcomed by servants at the palace door and ushered into an opulent sitting room. As we waited for the ladies of the house to join us, a female servant struggled to serve us refreshments. She was almost completely covered in the traditional Muslim clothing, but deeply wrinkled folds around her eyes were still visible. I felt uncomfortable sitting there allowing myself to be served by someone so elderly. I wanted to get up and help her, but that would have brought shame on our hosts. Attempting to acknowledge her years, and to show appreciation for her exertions on our behalf, I spoke.
Thank you for the lovely food. Please, how long have you worked here at the palace?
To be honest, I half expected to hear a glowing story of gratitude toward the rich family. Perhaps shed been an orphan who was taken in as a servant and saved from a life of poverty. Thats not unheard of here. But on this particular morning, God graciously allowed me to hear a different story. A story that would illustrate the callousness of even making such limited assumptions, of generalizing about people and putting them into categories. Why should I assume that life in the palace was better? (What was I even assuming it was better than?) What made me think I could safely assume anything about anyone elses life?
She kept serving but was silent. Then I noticed tears were running from her eyes, spilling over the zigzag lines of her aged face. My friends and I looked at each other, wondering what that one polite question had touched inside the womans heart.
Looking into my eyes, she explained that she didnt know how many years shed been working in the palace, but that it had been a long time. Her family roots were in a very distant area, and at the age of seven shed been playing in front of her familys home when a caravan of strangers came by. It was the rich family on holiday. Apparently, one young son had become bored with traveling and needed a playmate. Giving her father a sum of money, the rich man had purchased her and presented her to the boy. Then he and his caravan resumed their holiday. In all the long years that followed, she never heard from her family again.
On the whim of a passerby, her world had been changed. Shed been torn from the pages of her own childhood and pasted into a strangers scrapbook: mementos of family vacation.
Who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?* The answer, of course, is no one. Only God knows. But thankfully, God shares.
*1 Cor. 2:11 NAS