As the world comes unhinged by current events, where is God? While we find ourselves in dangerously uncharted waters, drowning in fear and anxiety, does God see any of this?? Fair questions.
We know He does because He is El Roi, God Who Sees. And we know this thanks to a bible character very often ignored and sometimes even vilified: Hagar.
You remember Hagar. She was the second wife of Abraham and mother of the infamous Ishmael. And she might be the most unlikely source to provide us with not only a name of God but along with it a sketch of sorts of His character. That’s what knowing His many names does for us: it helps us understand who He is and what He’s like. And there is no better time than the present to believe our God sees and cares.
Her story is a familiar one (found in Genesis 16 and 21), both ancient and timeless, uncomfortable in particulars but all too common at its core.
A woman objectified. Used without apology. Used and then abused. And then angry. Bitter and angry and running. And finally alone. Alone and afraid in the wilderness, barely hanging on.
And there she finds God. Or, better, He finds her. He finds her and He speaks, He comforts, He directs, and He provides a way out of the wilderness.
“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me’” (Genesis 16:13).
Does El Roi see us like He saw Hagar in the desert that day? He does. And like with Hagar, He is with us even now in the isolating wilderness of our fears and anxieties. Psalm 139 tells us that He sees it all: past, present, future. All our days. All our thoughts. All that hides in the deepest darkest corner of the soul. He sees it because He is in it with us.
What does El Roi find when He sees us today? Fear? Sadness? Hopelessness? He sees all and as we press into His presence in faith, He acts for us as He did for Hagar. He speaks, He calms, He heals, and He provides because He sees it all.
Later Hagar found herself in the wilderness again, this time rejected, sent into the desert to die and her son with her. She didn’t run away this time; she was sent away. Sent away by the one who was supposed to care for her. Unjustly cast off by the one who had promised one thing and given another. Powerless. Voiceless.
But El Roi met Hagar in the wilderness again. Again meeting her in her pain, confusion, and fear, He opened her eyes to see her salvation: a well of water to restore her to life. Provision. Hope.
As we blindly grope for answers, El Roi is there when all we can do is humbly ask that He open our eyes to see Him in this mess, to see His work, to see His provision. And to see that He sees us, to see how He loves us, and to see all those around us who need to know He sees them too.
He sees us and He is with us.