We are often prone to feelings of invisibility and inferiority. It is man’s bane to have unbidden moments of weakness and thoughts of being seen or heard.
And so, it is comforting to have a Heavenly Father who sees us. He sees beyond the façade and appearances we put on before others and sees our hearts and intents. He sees the tears that wet pillows at night, the secret fears and feelings of inadequacy, and the yearning for love, which constantly tears us down.
In Bible times, we read about Hagar – a bought Egyptian slave. She had no identity, life, or privileges of her own; she belonged to her mistress. She must have felt lost, dejected, and alone as she had to navigate through life.
And so, when her mistress gave her to Abram, it was as though her living conditions would become better, and she would finally become more than just a slave.
She was carrying the master’s heir, so this should mean something, right? And as anyone would, she began to exhibit these feelings of importance and significance in her daily actions.
This threatened Sarai’s position as Hagar’s mistress and made Sarai angry and resentful. Harboring these feelings, Sarai decided to mistreat Hagar without caring for her husband’s child or the slave’s welfare until the pregnant slave ran away.
Hagar returned to her state of being nothing and no one. Or so she thought as she traveled through the desert in despair and shame. Here she was with child, a slave without identity that had nowhere to go and probably had no survival skills.
And so, it must have been a pleasant surprise when the God of her master addressed her in person. Prior to this time, we only read that God spoke to Abram, His friend. Hence, God speaking directly to a slave was a strategic and monumental move. We read in Genesis 16:8-11:
The Lord’s angel said, “Hagar, Sarai’s slave, where have you come from? And where are you going?” Hagar replied, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.”
The angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her. I will give you numerous descendants.” The Lord’s angel also said to her, “You are now pregnant with a son. You will call him Ishmael because the Lord has heard about your suffering.”
In giving her an identity and hope through her son, God convinced Hagar that she was not invisible to Him, and He cared about her just as much as He cared about her master. It was at this point that she called God El Roi, which means “The One Who sees.”
We may have to face seasons of loneliness and pain as we go through life. Yet, we must always remember God as El Roi and bask in His unfailing love for us in such seasons.
And in the darkest of times, when life seems to want to consume and swallow us up, God is sure to show up with gentle whispers, reminding us that He sees us.