Our God Who Sees

I want to start this off by going all the way back to Abraham... farther back to when he was still Abram. God has made a covenant with Abram: that he would be the father of many nations. But his wife was old and infertile. Abram and Sarai had tried for years to have children, but she never became pregnant (spoiler alert: she does because God works miracles all the time, but that is a whole other blog post). We’ll start off pre-Isaac in Genesis 16:1-8,13 (HCSB):

“Abram’s wife Sarai had not borne any children for him, but she owned an Egyptian slave named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “Since the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps through her I can build a family.” And Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar, her Egyptian slave, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife for him. This happened after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan 10 years. He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When [Hagar] realized that she was pregnant, she treated [Sarai] with contempt [like she was insignificant]."

It’s important to note here that a woman’s identity during this time was largely based on her fertility.
 
"Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for my suffering! I put my slave in your arms, and ever since she saw that she was pregnant, she has treated me with contempt. May the Lord judge between me and you.” Abram replied to Sarai, “Here, your slave is in your hands; do whatever you want with her.” Then Sarai mistreated her so much that she ran away from her. The Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She replied, “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.” …Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are [El Roi or] God Who Sees”; for she said, “Have I not even here [in the wilderness] remained alive after seeing Him [who sees me with understanding and compassion]?”

In this story, Hagar was a slave. She had no choice in her circumstances. She was also Egyptian, meaning that she was not under any sort of covenant/relationship with God. So here she is, driven away by her master’s wife, pregnant with his child, alone in the wilderness with no food, and dying.
 
In the darkest point in her life, God revealed Himself to her as El Roi— our God who sees— restoring hope, providing provision and protection. Where do you need to know that God is the El Roi in your life right now?

Things in Hagar’s life shifted when she believed that God saw her. She went back to live in Abraham’s house & raised Ishmael like God had told her to.
 
Based on Scripture we don’t know if Sarai treated Hagar differently when she returned. Nothing about her circumstances shifted, but her knowledge of God did.

She knew God as one who saw her with understanding and compassion—He was personal now. He had a name to her—the One who sees. He was not just someone Abram & Sarai worshiped. He was no longer distant. He was near to her and always would be. Because of this truth in her life, she could endure and persevere in her circumstances.

We all have been through, are going through, and will go through circumstances in our lives that are out of our control: our parents getting divorced, death of family/friend, things people say about us/do to us direct or indirectly, chemical imbalances that lead to mental health complications, our futures to a certain extent...the list could go on and on.
 
This year for me has been one of the hardest yet. I don’t say that to get sympathy but to elicit hope and encourage you to cling to God and who you know Him to be. Oswald Chambers says it this way: “Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him”.

As believers, we get to partner with El Roi and His heart toward us. Because we are under the blood of Jesus, we are never disqualified from His love, compassion, and presence. We are His beloved children. In our pain, doubts, questions, and fears, He draws in close. He is not afraid of those things. He wants to be part of every aspect of your life, so let Him. Be vulnerable with Him.

If you’re struggling or wondering if God is even with you through hard things or questions, He is. He is even if you don’t feel Him. Don’t let your feelings dictate who God is. Let Scripture do that. Psalm 56:8 (TPT) says this:
 
“You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping. You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle—not one will be lost. For they are all recorded in your book of remembrance.”

He is present always, even in the moments & thoughts you are hiding from the world. I like Philip Yancey’s quote from “Where is God when it Hurts?”:

“The fact that Jesus came to earth where he suffered and died does not remove pain from our lives. But it does show that God did not sit idly by and watch us suffer in isolation. He became one of us. Thus, in Jesus, God gives us an up-close and personal look at his response to human suffering. All our questions about God and suffering should, in fact, be filtered through what we know about Jesus.”
 
When we are questioning if God even cares about where we are or what we’re going through, we have the perfect reflection of the Father to look at: Jesus. Let’s look at the story of Lazarus. Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, called for Jesus when he became sick. They were close friends of Jesus and knew that He was the Messiah and could heal their beloved brother. Jesus did not come right away and Lazarus does. Jesus received word of His death and told His disciples that Lazarus would not remain dead (John 11:4). Jesus and His disciples continued on to go see Lazarus and his sisters. We will pick up in John 11:32-35 (HCSB):

“Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.”

The word “wept” used in verse 35 is translated to “to wail; shed tears; weep audibly, cry as a child”. When He saw their pain, even though He knew that Lazarus would be raised from the dead (vs 4), He was “deeply moved in His spirit & was troubled”. When he sees our pain, there is the same response. He is broken by our pain/suffering. He is the great empathizer. All of our questions about God and suffering should be filtered through what we know about Jesus.

To end this blog post, I want you to read this next passage, close your eyes, and imagine God speaking these words over you. This comes out of Isaiah 43:1-3,5 in The Passion Translation:

“Now, this is what Yahweh says: “Listen, Jacob, to the One who created you, Israel, to the one who shaped who you are. Do not fear for I, your Kinsman-Redeemer, will rescue you. I have called you by name, and you are mine. When you pass through the deep, stormy sea,
     you can count on me to be there with you.
     When you pass through raging rivers,
     You will not drown.
     When you walk through persecution like fiery flames,
     you will not be burned;
     the flames will not harm you,
 for I am your Savior, Yahweh, your mighty God,
     the Holy One of Israel!
 I am with you now, even close to you,
     so never yield to fear.’”


Author | Brooke DeLoach

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