“She [Hagar] 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)
One day I was sitting on the patio with my new stepfather, Pete, waiting for the grill to heat up before placing steaks on to cook. My mom opened the door and gave Pete his orders — telling him what to do and how to do it. When she went back inside, Pete made a hand signal, pointing in one ear and out the other. We both laughed. Then he placed his ruddy hand on my arm, a hand worn by years of working under the hood of cars of every make and model.
“She was pretty hard on you growing up, wasn’t she?” he asked.
“You have no idea,” I answered with a sigh.
But Pete did have an idea. He understood. And that one simple gesture let me know he had peered into my heart and seen the truth. The weathered, country mechanic had looked under the hood of my heart with wisdom and seen the damaged engine within. A heart that, though healed by Christ, still felt the phantom pains of a little girl who felt she was never good enough, who was constantly told what to do and how to do it — and who never did it quite right. Pete saw my heart, and for that, I loved him.
How like God. He places His hand on our shoulders, looks into our eyes, and lets us know He understands. “I see you,” He says. “I see what you are going through.”
That’s exactly what happened to a woman named Hagar. In Genesis, God had promised Abram he would be the father of many nations. But then his wife, Sarai, grew tired of waiting on God to fulfill His promise. So she told Abram to sleep with her slave, Hagar, and build a family through her. (Genesis 16:1-3). Once Hagar conceived, Sarai grew jealous and mistreated Hagar. Hagar couldn’t take the abuse any longer, so she ran away to the desert.
“The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’
‘I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,’ she answered.
Then the angel of the LORD told her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her.’ The angel added, ‘I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count’” (Genesis 16:7-10, NIV).
Hagar’s heart was humbly moved because God had seen her, taken notice of her, understood her. “‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me’” (Genesis 16:13b). Hagar called God by His name, El Roi, The God who sees me … and you.
The book of Hebrews tells us we have a High Priest, Jesus, who understands what we’re going through. He “sympathizes” with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). The word “sympathizes” comes from two Greek words, syn and pathos, meaning, “suffer with.” We are not alone in our suffering, and there are glory moments, moments when God makes His presence known, if we keep our eyes open to see.