Something I really love about our God is that He has so many names. He is Jehovah Jireh, my provider. He is Jehovah Rapha, my Healer. He is the Lamb of God. He is the Bread of Life. And He is the Good Shepherd.
But of all of the names of God, I think that my favorite name is El Roi, “The God Who Sees Me.”
Are you familiar with the story of Hagar, found in Genesis 16? Here we find a sordid story that frankly is hard to stomach. It is a tough tale of infertility, of using other people to reach a goal, and of taking things into one’s hands when instead people should have been trusting God.
In Genesis 16, we meet up with Abram and Sarai (later to be called Abraham and Sarah). God had promised them many years before that He would give them a son, but this had not happened yet, and this elderly couple decided to take things into their own hands.
Let’s pick up the story in Genesis 16:1. “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar, her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.”
Let’s stop for a minute and acknowledge that it is never a good idea to take things into our own hands to accomplish the promises of God! Abram and Sarai were discouraged enough that they approached the problem of no children by leaving God out of the matter. Understandably so, Abram and Sarai were tired of waiting!
Walking in unbelief instead of in faith, they tried to help God fulfill His promises, which is never what we are to do. They removed God from the situation and took matters into their own hands.
As the story goes on, we read that Abram slept with Hagar and she conceived a child. Is anyone besides me cringing yet? Poor Hagar! I cannot imagine her misery, and I very much doubt that she wanted this situation.
The story goes on to let us know that Sarai began to despise Hagar and mistreat her so badly that Hagar needed to run away. My heart aches for her as I think of being given to a man in “marriage,” for carrying a child while being mistreated, and for needing to escape to the wilderness just to get some relief.
“But.” Ooh you know something good is coming when studying God’s word and there’s a but. But, while she’s out in the desert, the Angel of the Lord visits her. The Angel of the Lord comforts, telling her that “The Lord has heard your affliction.” (Genesis 16:11, NKJV).
He very clearly gives her instructions on how she is to return and how she is to behave. Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” (Genesis 16:9, NKJV). The Angel assures Hagar that God has a plan for her life and for the life of her son.
God doesn’t help her escape but instead guarantees her that He sees what is happening and knows her baby’s future. He goes on to tell her that God has chosen a name for her son and has guaranteed that he will have many descendants. The angel tells her. “You are now pregnant, and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.” (Genesis 16:11, NKJV)
And then Hagar responds to this angel with such comforting, powerful words. “Then she called the name of the Lord, who spoke to her, El Roi, You-Are-the God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13, NKJV)
God saw Hagar! He saw that she had done nothing to get herself into this desperate situation. He came and met her and was with her. He gave her comfort and instructions about what to do next.
Do you find yourself in a tough situation, perhaps in a desperate one?
Are you facing consequences for someone else’s actions? Perhaps your spouse or your child has made bad decisions and you’re now having to sort things out or deal with the pain of hard circumstances.
Or maybe you are lonely and wondering if God knows your struggles. Perhaps you have been mistreated, just like Hagar. You are questioning if He really cares.
Friend, I want to encourage you today that the God who met Hagar in the wilderness is the same God who sees you and will meet you in your wilderness. Our God is still El Roi, “The-God-Who-Sees-Me.”
And if you are a Christian, a child of God, you have an even more solid promise of this than Hagar had. We have the promise of Jesus: “Behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, NKJV).
So don’t give up hope. If you are in a difficult circumstance, in pain, or feel trapped, God sees.
Turn to Jesus today.
Thank him for being “The-God-Who-Sees-Me.”
Thank Him for being with you.
Ask Him to give you the wisdom and strength you need in your circumstances.
He did it for Hagar, and He’ll do it for you.
Annie Boyd is a co-founder and contributor at The Gingham Apron, an online place of encouragement and inspiration. She is the co-author of The Gathering Table: Growing Strong Relationships through Food, Faith, and Hospitality. Annie lives in southern California with her family, enjoying both the mountains and beaches.