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
The God who sees me.
When we talk about Hagar, we often refer to this tender exchange. This exact moment in the wilderness when she encounters God… when she accepts correction and instruction to return to a tense situation… when she receives the promise concerning the son in her womb… when she recognizes that she is seen and known by name. Yes, this is a pivotal moment, marked with such a significant name, and as I began to walk through Hagar’s story, to be seen, is so much deeper than watching someone visually.
Hagar was acquired by Abram through deception and isolated from all that she knew in Eygpt (Gen. 12:16). She lived the life of a typical slave, serving others day in and out hidden amongst the shadows. In her mistress, Sarai’s, moment of desperation, Hagar is given to Abram to once again serve, but this time with her womb (Gen 16:1-3). Once Hagar is pregnant, she becomes the visible reminder of her mistress’s inability to conceive and a physical target of maltreatment. In addition, Hagar gets abandoned by Abram who’s trying to avoid the tension between his wife and his unborn child’s mother. At this point, it’s easy to imagine Hagar rehearsing the repeated narrative of feeling alone… being subject to the whims of her earthly masters… feeling used and abused… and feeling unseen.
It’s not surprising when Hagar runs away. The surprising thing is who she encounters on her way back to Eygpt.
An angel of the Lord.
The same exact Lord of the people who abused her.
Yet in that moment, Hagar finds more than she could have imagined. She’s called by name (Gen 16:8). She’s seen. Although the angel gives Hagar the difficult instruction to return to her master who mistreated her, this time is different. Hagar returns with a promise; a promise of the offspring to come and the freedom that they will get to experience (Gen 16:11-12). The angel shifts her gaze from her current circumstances to the future. He gives Hagar hope.
I think deep down we’re like Hagar… We all want to be seen.
To be acknowledged for who we are, what we’ve been through, and what we bring to the table. To be known by name.
The problem is who we’re being seen by. The quest for being seen by others can lead us to perform. We’ll dismiss our own needs for the desires of others or act in ways that are outside of our true nature just to be noticed.
In pursuit of being visually seen by man, we can wind up in the wilderness. Lost. Alone. Abused. & Empty.
My prayer is that like Hagar we encounter God in the wilderness and know that He sees us.
He sees the cards life has dealt us. He sees the things that people did to us. He sees the things that we do to ourselves trying to cope. And He sees the promises that still hang over our heads.
That’s what I want to reassure you with today, God SEES you. He saw you then. He sees you now. And He sees your future. I encourage you to follow His instructions and be willing to go back to the places of suffering with renewed hope. God’s promises never fail.