“So she named the LORD who spoke to her, “You are El-roi,” for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?” Genesis 16:13 CSB
Invisible. Unseen. Forgotten. Ignored. Mistreated. Hagar probably would have described herself in any of these ways. In Genesis 16, we find the story of Abram (before God changed his name to Abraham), Sarai (eventually to be called Sarah), and Hagar, her Egyptian servant. God had promised Abram, had made a covenant with him, that he would be the father of a great nation and all peoples of the earth would be blessed through him (see Genesis 12:1-3). In Genesis 15, we read about Abraham asking God about this since he had no offspring. The LORD clearly answered that the heir would be one of his very own and that his offspring would be numerous.
Time passed and Sarai had not conceived and she decided to help out God with His plan a little bit. As often as I have heard this story, I have never been able to understand Sarai’s thought process on this one. She told her husband to take her maidservant, Hagar, and sleep with her, and subsequently build her family through her child. Why would Abram agree? What made Sarai think she wouldn’t be bothered by this arrangement? We may never know this side of heaven, but in their heads, this obviously made sense to both of them and so it was. It didn’t take too terribly long for the situation to go south. It was a bad plan from the start. Any time we try to help God along with His plans ahead of His timing, it inevitably ends in heartache of some sort, as was the case for the three of them in Genesis 16. I can just imagine the scene: Hagar has been given to Abram as a wife and bears him a child. She begins to treat Sarai with contempt, acting superior to her. Sarai is not having it, so she takes the responsibility of her misery and sets it squarely down at Abram’s feet, blaming him for her suffering (see Genesis 16:5) Translated in my 21st century way of thinking–“This is all YOUR fault, honey, now what are you going to do about my misery?” Can’t you just hear them now? Abram then tells Sarai that Hagar is her servant so do with her as she pleased. Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she ran away.
Yet she didn’t run too far from the eyes of God, for He pursued her and found her at a spring of water in the wilderness. God, in His great compassion and mercy, promised her that her offspring would also be too many to count and that the LORD had heard her cry of affliction (v.10-11). There she gave God the name, El-roi which is translated the God Who Sees. Hear it again, “The God Who Sees.” How beautiful a phrase. Doesn’t that just wash over you like a healing balm? Sometimes I need to be reminded that God is El-roi, that He is the God who sees ME.
More than a reminder, I need that to be a way of life for me. How transformed would my life be if I was content with that concept and that it was enough for God to see me? At times, it can feel like we are but a speck in this colossal universe and that no one could possibly notice us. When that happens, our minds can take us down paths that are unhealthy and negative. We can begin to think we are invisible and that we don’t matter to anyone. We can wonder if all the efforts we make and all the sacrifices given for others are worth it. The enemy of our souls thrives when we are in that place and he attacks us in those weakest moments. He fuels our insecurities about being invisible with quiet lies that he spews at us. And, because we are already in that mindset, we begin to believe him. What he wants us to believe more than anything is that we don’t matter to God and that God doesn’t see us or hear us, that God won’t come to our rescue to save us. And then when we take his bait, he sits back and laughs at us, and we are left to feel even smaller than before.
But Jesus sees us. God is El-roi. What if, instead of trying to ensure we are visible and not forgotten, we believed that God sees us? More than that, what if we rested in that promise? Rather than comforting ourselves with that as an afterthought when no one else notices, let’s begin to step fully into the truth that God sees us and allow that to dictate our thoughts and actions. Because God sees me, I can be kind and forgive even when it is the last thing I want to do. Because God sees me, I will do this 27th load of laundry in the last three days. Because God sees me, I will not demand my own way and be selfish because I feel like I deserve it. Because God sees me, I am free to be who He created me to be and not some mold others are trying to force me into. Because God sees me, I can release the need to be seen and validated by others. Because God sees me, I will walk in the light. Because God sees me, I will…fill in the blank. What is that for you, friend? What a gift we give ourselves and how we set others free when we believe that God is the God who sees me.
With Mother’s Day this weekend, I cannot help but think of all the women who may feel like they are unseen. Perhaps it is a feeling of being unseen and forgotten by God because He doesn’t seem to be answering you. Trust His promise that He sees you and He hears your cries of affliction. Maybe you love being a mother but, at times, it seems like no matter what you do, it will never be enough. Whisper this truth to yourself as often as you can, “My God is the God who sees me. God, You are El-roi.”
Motherhood can be a thankless job. No one can count the lost hours of sleep due to meeting the needs of one’s children or praying for them. No one can even begin to know the things you manage in order to keep the world of your family going round. Sometimes you may even wonder what would happen if weren’t always three steps ahead, anticipating everyone’s needs. God sees you, Mama, whatever phase of life you are in. If you are exhausted with toddlers underfoot, God sees you. Maybe you are entering your empty nest season, and God sees you too. This could be the first Mother’s Day after losing your mother or losing a child–know that you are right in the middle of God’s compassionate line of vision. If you are a woman who longs to be a mother, God sees you. If you are single, God sees you. If you are a single mother, God sees you. If you are a single father who has to be mother too, God sees you. To all of our spiritual mothers out there, God sees you! Let it be enough that God sees you. Say it aloud right now, “God sees me.” Relish the thought. Treasure it. Walk in that truth today. Rather than it be the afterthought, let “God sees me” be your first thought. Then ask Him to open your eyes to the countless ways He is showing you that He sees you, for He loves it when His children delight in Him. God sees you and He sees me. Be encouraged today with that truth!