The Angel of the Lord found her [Hagar] 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 the Angel of the Lord said to her, “You must go back to your mistress and submit to her mistreatment.” The Angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.”
Then the Angel of the Lord said to her:
You have conceived and will have a son.
You will name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard your cry of affliction.
This man will be like a wild donkey.
His hand will be against everyone,
and everyone’s hand will be against him;
he will live at odds with all his brothers.
So she called the Lord who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the One who sees me?” That is why she named the spring, “A Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.” It is located between Kadesh and Bered.
(Genesis 16:7-14, HCSB)
The God who sees me, El Roi.
You see me. Relatively insignificant me. You see me when the power goes out, running around, trying to collect our things and find a warm place to stay.
You see me stumble out of bed for a middle of the night feeding.
You see me, first thing in the morning, taking care of a bathroom that overflowed.
You see me, struggle to instill morals, values and respect in my children.
You see me struggle with anger, uncertainly, with trying to find joy, even in the hardest of moments.
And you give me sweet moments. Those beams of sunshine. A little girl that can scream, but turn around and give the best hugs and kisses ever. Who talks a mile a minute, asking about everything under the sun. Who has turned my world upside down.
You see me. And I'm so thankful for that.
There are words in my head, words that say I'm failure, that my daughter will grow up to hate me. That I can't handle it all. That you are only a distant being that doesn't really care. That I'm on my own.
"The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you. All of the thrills of religion and none of the cost. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen?" C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity
Some people believe in a God like this. A distant "Life-Force" that leaves us toiling on our own. Who's there on Christmas and Easter, but stays out of our business the rest of the year. That simply watches from a distance. But the words El Roi mean so much more to me. God saw Hagar in her desperation. She was abused and alone in the wilderness. But God saw her and took care of her. He sent an Angel to encourage her. He promised that there were good things in store. He was more than just a onlooker. He didn't just glance down and see the situation, and then turn his back on her. No, He saw her heart and cared for her.
He saw and He provided in His own way. In His own time. He truly provided what was needed. Maybe not what was wanted, I doubt she wanted to go back to Sarai, but what she needed to do for the bigger picture. For Ishmael, the son she would bear.
It's wonderful to know that God sees all of us as well. He sees us, inside and out, flaws included. And, more than just a distant onlooker, He lives within us. He sees the greater story being played out. And when we submit to His plan, He gives us joy indescribable.
Dear God, thank you for being El Roi, the God who sees. Thank you for already providing for me as I go about my day. May I live today, and each day, with a joy and peace that can only come from you. Amen.