The story about Hagar, Sarai’s Egyptian slave, has always intrigued me and pulled on my heart. A few years ago I realized why her story connected with me so much. Although we didn’t have the same situation, we experienced the same feelings. I have learned a lot about my relationship with God through the name that Hagar gave Him in the midst of her struggles with loneliness and hurt. Because I have also felt hurt and alone, this story continues to speak to me every day.
Who is Hagar?
In Genesis 16, Hagar was pregnant with Abraham’s son, Ishmael, because Abraham’s wife, Sarai, had not been able to conceive a baby. Sarai wanted to have a child through Hagar because she thought that she and Abraham could fulfill God’s promise if they did this (Crazy, right?). But when Hagar got pregnant, Sarai became jealous and started treating her badly. Because of this, Hagar fled, risking her and her baby's life. She was hurt and conflicted about her situation and didn't know what else to do.
When Hagar ran away, she felt alone and hurt in the middle of nowhere, but God showed up and spoke to her. He encouraged her and gave her hope.
Hagar felt hurt, broken, and confused. Why had she been treated poorly when she was only doing what she was told? Hagar didn’t feel safe, and she didn’t know what to do with her life. God came to her in the desert when she was hopeless and helpless, and He showed her that she was not alone.
El Roi - The God Who Sees Me
She gave this name [El Roi] 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
In Genesis 16:13, Hagar responded to God by giving Him the name El Roi, “the God who sees me.” She didn’t call Him this because He saw her faults. She called Him this because He saw her in her loneliness. He saw her in her pain. He saw her in her struggles. He saw her in her confusion. He was with her and came to her when she ran away, so He could encourage her.
Many of us feel like we live life in the shadows. Our efforts go unseen. Our pain goes unseen. The lack of encouragement wears us down. Our identity is easily shaken by the people around us and the circumstances we face. But the truth is we have the God of the universe meeting us where we are, because He sees every little thing in us. The crazy thing is that He sees everything in us, and He still pursues us and is excited about who we are. When we feel brought down by the people around us, He is working on our hearts and building us into who HE wants us to be, not who everyone else does or doesn’t see us as.
You Are Seen
We don’t have to try to get God’s attention. He already sees us, and He reaches out. He meets us where we are whether we are happy, sad, hurt, confused, trying our best, or at our worst. Even when we don't realize it, He is pursuing us. We don't have to rely on people's opinions, impressing others, or proving ourselves. We don't have to rely on compliments or affirmation from anyone, because we have God our Father meeting us where we are and giving us everything we need. In Genesis 16:13 Hagar says, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” She realized this piece of God's identity, and she responded. All you have to do is respond to knowing that our God is the God who sees you.