The God Who Sees
I’m so intrigued by the story of Sarai, Abram, and Hagar. That whole situation was a mess, yet out of that mess, God worked. Instead of trusting God that He would do what he said he would do and give them a child, Sarai offered Hagar, her maid, to Abram as a surrogate. Maybe they thought God was expecting them to do something more than wait and trust.
Either way, Hagar becomes pregnant with Abram’s child, and when she realized it, something turned in Hagar. Genesis 16:4 lays it out straight: “But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt.” Sarai wasn’t going to have it and treated Hagar so harshly that Hagar picked up and ran. When Hagar stopped running long enough to get a drink of water, that’s when the angel of the Lord made his move.
I know you.
“The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?’” – Genesis 16:7-8
Up until this moment in Scripture, no one called Hagar by her name. She was simply “the slave,” “the servant,” or “my maid.” The first person to call her by name was an angel of the Lord. She wasn’t as invisible as she thought. She was known by Heaven.
I have a destiny for you.
“The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.’ Then he added, ‘I will give you more descendants than you can count.’” – Genesis 16:9-10, NLT
Hagar had no plan for her future except escape. Perhaps she planned to go back to Egypt. Going back to Abram and Sarai wasn’t an option until the angel of the Lord intervened. Not only was she was known, she had a destiny. She would live, her child would live, and this woman who had nothing would have more descendants than she could count.
I hear you.
“And the angel also said, ‘You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress.'” – Genesis 16:11, NLT
Her pregnancy, confirmed. It’s a boy. His name will be a living reminder of how God heard her – Ishmael, “God hears.” Known. Destined. Heard. Can you imagine how Hagar felt? Abram and Sarai treated her like she was utilitarian, disposable, invisible. But the God of the world reached down to tell her she was known and her cries were heard.
I see you.
“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, NLT
Belittled, abused, and demeaned by man, Hagar was seen by God. His ears weren’t deaf to her cries. His eyes weren’t blind to her pain. His attention wasn’t distracted by someone else. God zeroed in on Hagar and He made sure she knew she was seen, known, heard, destined for a role in His plan. Hagar knew it and believed it. She gave God a name: “El Roi,” the God who sees me. The first person to name God. A woman. A slave. A foreigner. Abram’s concubine.
They all were wrong. Sin complicates everything. But even in our sin, God still works. He waited until Hagar stopped running to talk with her. He touched the deepest part of her soul with what she needed to hear first: she was seen. Then God set about calling her to repentance and restoration with a promise of her future. He showed Hagar that not only is He El Roi – the God who sees, He is Jehovah Shammah – the God Who Is There, and Jehovah Jirah – the God Who Provides.