“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 NIV
Have you ever felt unseen? Growing up, my dad told us that “little children should be seen and not heard.” So, statements like this and the fact that I am an introvert left me feeling unseen for much of my life. So, I still struggle with these feelings sometimes. And at times, my heart still craves for others to see, and I want to be part of the popular crowd.
I believe many people experience such feelings. And we even find instances of this in the Bible. For example, we see one such account in the 16th chapter of Genesis with the story of Hagar. Hagar was a maidservant to Sarai, Abram’s wife. So when Sarai could not conceive a child, she took matters into her own hands to fulfill the promise of God to her husband.
“3: So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4: He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.”Genesis 16:3-4 NIV
As the story continues, Hagar feels unseen by either Sarai or Abram. As a result, she becomes a pawn in the story and ends up running away. Finally, she escapes to the desert, where she encounters an angel of the Lord. The angel even calls her by name as he speaks with her about her current situation.
El Roi – The God Who Sees
Next, the angel commands Hagar to “return and submit” (Gen 16:9) to Sarai. To some, this command appears insensitive and oppressive. However, the verses that follow this statement display God’s focus on Hagar’s future. And Hagar realizes that God has seen and heard her, prompting her to give God the name El Roi, the God who sees me. Additionally, Hagar names her son Ishmael (per the angel’s instructions), which means God hears.
Seen by God
Hagar, a woman with no power or status in a patriarchal society, became the first person in Scripture to receive a visit from an angel. And she is the only person in Scripture to give God a name. Her life changed when she realized that God had seen her. And, no matter how bad the treatment upon her return, Hagar held onto the promises from Genesis 16:10 NIV; “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
What a beautiful lesson! This story wasn’t only for Hagar. God’s character never changes, and what He did for Hagar, He will do for us today. We are seen by El Roi too. There is hope and comfort in the name “El Roi.”
The Lesson for Us
So, the next time you feel unseen, remember the story of Hagar. Remember that you are seen by God. He sees your tears, doubts, fears, and worries. God saw you before you were born (Psalm 139:16 NIV), He knows your name (Isaiah 43:1 NIV), and He will be with us until the end of time (Matthew 28:20 NIV). Whether the world sees you or not, your Savior does, and I know that provides me enough comfort to keep going.
Dear Heavenly Father. Forgive me for the times I crave to be seen by the world. I’m so grateful that I don’t have to look to man for validation; all I need is given to me by You. So please help me to focus on Your promises for me. And help me to seek You when I want to be seen. Thank You for loving me through all my trials and tribulations. In Jesus’ Holy name, I pray. Amen