She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me [El Roi],” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13 NIV)
One day I was sitting on the patio with a friend, Beth, and her step-father, Sam. We were waiting for the grill to heat up before placing steaks on to cook. Beth’s mom opened the door and gave Sam his orders – telling him what to do and how to do it. When she went back inside, Sam made a hand signal, pointing in one ear and out the other. We all three laughed. Then he placed his ruddy hand on my friend’s arm, a hand worn by years of working under the hoods of cars of every shape and size.
“She was pretty hard on you growing up wasn’t she,” he asked.
“You have no idea,” she answered with a sigh.
But he did have an idea. He understood. And that one simple gesture let her know that Sam had peered into her heart and seen the truth. The weathered country mechanic had looked under the hood of her heart with wisdom of the learned and seen the damaged and maimed engine within. A heart, though healed by Christ, that still felt the phantom pain of a little girl who was never good enough, who was constantly told what to do and how to do it – and who never did it quite right. Sam saw her heart, and for that, Beth loved him. And so did I.
One of my favorite names of God is El Roi – the God who Sees Me. He sees what you are going through. .He sees you.
Hagar was the first person to call God by the name El Roi. Hagar. Used. Abused. Tossed away. Driven away. Running away. She was all that and more.
Hagar was a maidservant, a girl-slave to her mistress, Sarai. She had a job to do and we have no indication that it was unpleasant, until a turn of events changed her life forever.
God came to Abram, Sarai’s husband, and gave him some amazing news.
“Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted…A son coming from your own body will be your heir.”” (Genesis 13:14-17; 15:4)
Abram told Sarai, of God’s promises, but as the months tuned into years, Sarai “grew impatient with God and His promises.”
‘The LORD has kept me from having children,” she complained to Abram. “Go sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family though her.’” (Genesis 16:2)
Oh my, this seems more than strange. But in those days, it was common practice for an infertile wife to offer her maid in order to keep the family name alive. So Abram bowed to his beautiful wife’s bidding and bedded her maid. Hagar conceived a child and a bit of pride to go with it. Then in a way only a conniving woman can contrive, Sarai turned around and blamed Abram for the tension this pregnancy birthed. As Hagar’s belly began to fill out, Sarai’s jealousy began to well up.
“You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”
“Your servant is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” (Genesis 16:5-6)
Sarai mistreated Hagar until she could bear it no more. Cutting remarks. Angry words. Condemning looks. Finally, Hagar ran away to the desert.
As Hagar lay languishing in the wilderness, an angel of the LORD appeared to her and asked the same question God asks all of us. The question akin to the very first question He asked Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:9). “Where have you come from and where are you going” (Genesis 16:8). Of course God knew where she had come from and where she was going, but Hagar needed to say the words, just like we need to say the words.
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” the abused Hagar replied. (Genesis 16:8)
“I’m running away from this lifeless marriage,” the neglected wife decides.
“I’m running away from the pressures of this job,” the man with the bottle responds.
“I’m running away from that coldhearted woman,” the man peering at porn justifies.
“I’m running away from these ungrateful children,” the shopaholic mother answers.
“I’m running away from the daily grind, endless chores, and piles of laundry,” the lonely housewife sighs as she clicks on an old boyfriend’s Facebook page.
“I’m running away…”
“Then the angel of the LORD told her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her. I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count… the LORD has heard your misery.’”
Hagar was a slave who had been sexually used and verbally abused. Hagar was a woman amazed that God heard her cries and saw her misery…that He took note of her condition and actually spoke to her. I understand her surprise. I am still amazed that the Creator of the Universe sees me, hears me, takes note of me, and speaks to me – and to you.
El Roi, thank You for seeing me, for hearing me, for rescuing me in my time of need. Help me to remember that there is nothing in my life that You don’t see and that You can’t fix. I trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Why do you think God started His conversation with Hagar with a question?
Describe how Hagar must have been feeling when she ran away.
Has there ever been a circumstance in your life where you felt the same way? Is it today?
Ready to stop running and start trusting God? If so, click over to my blog page and say, “I’m taking off my running shoes.”
Trusting God…that’s what we, at Girlfriends in God, are all about. If this is an area of your life that needs an extra boost, check out our book, Trusting God! It has 12 weeks of devotions dedicated to this one important subject. You can find at www.localhost/sjold. Let’s trust God together!