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  • Writer's pictureMegan L. Anderson

Side Character Complex

Isaiah 43:19

"Behold, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert"

When we think of our faith’s lineage, we cast memory back to the early patriarchs and matriarchs. But while God worked through them to set the foundations of what would become Christianity, he did not overlook those pushed to the wayside.

God promised to make the child of Abraham and Sarah into a great nation, but they took matters into their own hands and produced a child through the maidservant Hagar (Genesis 21:8-21). When the consequences of trying to force God’s timing led to Hagar’s being cast out into the desert, God saw her and blessed her. While she was used and abandoned by others nearly to the point of death, God himself drew close and met her and her child with grand promises of their own that he was faithful to fulfill.

When Leah was disguised by her father to deceive Jacob into marrying her instead of his beloved Rachel, it was Leah who bore the weight of feeling unwanted and unloved (Genesis 29:16-35). Having come second to her younger sister much of her life due to her visual disability and lack of outward beauty in comparison, the hope of finally marrying a man who would value her must have reached its height only to be immediately crushed by Jacob’s outburst the next morning, then crushed over and over again as she watched Jacob dote on Rachel instead of her. But God, seeing her plight, blessed Leah with children, giving her pride of place in the family hierarchy by being the first to bear Jacob many sons. Those sons would become the namesake tribes of the Israelite nation.

Sometimes we can find ourselves feeling like insignificant, unwanted, and even rejected side characters in the stories of everyone around us. There’s always someone more successful, more attractive, more talented, more liked, etc. Do we matter? Are our needs and feelings important? Would it make much difference if we just disappeared into the desert? 

But the desert is often where God himself draws near. The barren wasteland becomes a sacred place of fruitful blessing and promise. He is the God who makes streams in the desert. He brings us into the wilderness so that we can clearly hear his tender voice (Hosea 2:14-23).

God is the God who sees. He is the God who loves. When we find ourselves utterly abandoned and undervalued, his Spirit draws near to revive us with his promises. The question is: will we listen?

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