The God Who Sees
One of my favorite Bible characters is Hagar, the slave of Sarah and Abraham. The story is in Genesis 16 and to summarize, Sarah (then called Sarai) had been unable to conceive so she encouraged Abraham (then called Abram) to have a child through their Egyptian servant, Hagar. Hagar taunted Sarah after becoming pregnant and in turn, Sarah treated Hagar harshly to the point that she fled into the desert.
If anyone felt invisible and unwanted, it was Hagar. She was living every woman’s nightmare: pregnant, alone and utterly abandoned. Or so she thought. God knew her circumstance and sent an angel to minister to her. After this encounter with the Lord, Hagar said (Genesis 16:13), “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” In Hebrew, that name is El-Roi, the God who sees.
I’m reminded of a line from the movie Shall We Dance, a story about a man (played by Richard Gere) who takes up ballroom dancing while going through a midlife crisis. In one scene his wife (played by Susan Sarandon) is explaining to someone why people get married:
“Because we need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet. I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage…you’re saying ‘your life will not go unnoticed, because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed, because I will witness it.'”
Isn’t that what we all want? To be seen, witnessed, and acknowledged? El-Roi does this for us. He says to each of us, “your life will not go unnoticed, because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed, because I will witness it. I see you.”
When we forget that our heavenly Father sees us, we will feel invisible and unimportant and will seek acknowledgement from others. This will always leave us wanting. That’s why the story of Hagar is an important reminder of God’s character.
It reminds us that even if no one else notices, God witnesses a life he lovingly created for his glory and purpose. He never abandons his watch over us. He sees us through the filter of Jesus and the cross, redeemed and worthy. That’s hardly insignificant!
God has much to say about how important we are to him.
Psalm 139 is a beautiful testament of the God who sees as he supervised the formation of each one of us before we were born and has remained constantly aware of every moment of our lives thereafter.
In fact, there is nowhere we can go that he does not see. Psalm 121 tells us that the Lord never takes a break from watching over us. Isaiah 61:3 says we are a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. Isaiah 54:10 reminds us that even if the mountains fall, His unfailing love for us will not be shaken nor his covenant removed.
No matter how invisible we feel on this planet, we are never out of God’s sight. Even if no one else ever knows who we are, even if we never get credit for anything good we’ve ever done, even when we feel alone, he remains El-Roi, the God who sees us and is always there.
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