Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
~ Genesis 16:13
When I was in college I was part of a women's Beth Moore Bible study. If any of you have every done a Beth Moore Bible study you know that it's pretty intense and you learn a lot--about the Bible, about God, and about yourself. Not necessarily in that order. This study was 'The Patriarchs'. At first, I thought, "The patriarchs? How can a women's Bible study be all about men?" Foolish little me just didn't see it. But I have always been grateful for that study. I learned so much...about the Bible, about God, and about myself. Not necessarily in that order.
So if this study was six or so years ago, why bring it up now? Well...lately, I've been reminded of one of my favorite parts of that study. It's become one of my favorite stories in the Bible, and it features a little respected or valued person. Hagar. Hagar gets a bad rap most of the time, I think. It wasn't her fault. She was just a pawn in Sarai's quest for fulfillment. She was used, abused, and cast aside. And posterity has had little compassion for her.
Genesis relates two stories of Hagar going out into the desert, running away from and/or thrown out by Sarai. And both times, God comes to her. The writers of Genesis paint these tender scenes of God in the form of angels coming to Hagar to comfort and guide her. The first time Hagar is instructed to return to Abram & Sarai; the second time God provides life giving water for Hagar and Ishmael and reassurance that He will sustain them. It's so clear that God has time and tenderness for this scared servant girl.
In Genesis 16, the first time Hagar runs away, she gives God a name. This is one thing I learned in 'The Patriarchs'; people in Genesis are always giving God names. In this way, Genesis is one of the best books to read to get a sense of who God really is. So many facets of His character are revealed. Hagar gives God the name 'El-Roi' (and in a humorous side note, I can't help but think of the stinkin' Jetsons...'his boy Elroy!' *ah-hem*...anyway...).
El-Roi is translated as 'The God who sees me'.
Take that in for a moment. Soak in it. Because it really is beautiful.
And I can tell you it's true. He does see me, and He sees you, too. I've been experiencing this incredible reality for the last 10 weeks. Ever since I started recovering in the hospital after giving birth. It's been in the little things that became really big things for me. The examples are deeply personal so I'm afraid I must keep them to myself. But I can tell you this...I cried out to God from within my heart, and I really believed He could and would do what I asked from Him...and He hasn't let me down. He is the God who sees me. He sees my pain, my fear, my exhaustion, my hopes, and he hears my prayers.
That's the other part of Hagar's story. When she and Ishmael are cast out by Sarah (her name has been changed in the time between Part 1 and Part 2 of Hagar's story) the Bible tells us that God heard Ishmael crying. And so God came to Hagar to comfort and provide for her. He proves that he's not only the God who sees but the God who hears.
So can I tell you, the next time you are afraid and feel all alone...or the next time you feel completely powerless to do what needs to be done...the next time you are over-whelmed by your reality...remember that there is a God who sees you. And just call on El-Roi. He will be faithful. He's always faithful.
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.23
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.24
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
~ Lamentations 3:22-24