Hagar, second wife of Abraham and mother of the infamous Ishmael, might be the most unlikely source to give us a name of God. At least I think so. But that is just what she did. We have her to thank for El Roi: God Who Sees. “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). And see her He did. He saw her as she was. A servant awkwardly made wife. Objectified. Used without apology. Used and then abused. And then angry. Bitter and angry and running. And finally alone. Alone and afraid.
Ancient cultural norms for family planning aside, things are not so different today. Many of us suffer like Hagar. Used. Abused. Many of us angrily run when we feel the sting of injustice. Or when we just can’t cope with a mess we’ve made. All alone we feel we can’t go back; afraid, we wonder Now what??
Does El Roi see us like He saw Hagar in the desert that day? He does. Like with Hagar, He is with us in the wilderness of our pain. Psalm 139 tells us that He sees it all: past, present, future. All our days. All our thoughts. All that hides in the deepest darkest corner of the soul. Wherever we run. Wherever we hide. He is there. And He sees.
What does El Roi see when He finds you in that place? Fears? Regrets? Wounds? Surely He sees all three in me. He sees all and He acts for me as He did for Hagar. He speaks, He calms, He heals, and He opens my eyes. Hagar said: I have now seen the One… Not only does He see, He gives sight. He opens our eyes to see.
Later Hagar is in the desert again, this time rejected, sent into the desert to die and her son with her. She didn’t run away this time; she was sent away. Sent away by the one who was supposed to care for her. Unjustly cast off by the one who had made her his wife. No voice. No hope. When the water ran out and the doom of dehydration weighed heavy, El Roi met Hagar in the wilderness again. Again meeting her in her pain, He opened her eyes to see her salvation: a well of water.
And so with us, He opens our eyes to see our salvation, a well of living water poured out to quench our thirsty souls and give us life, the new spiritual life we so desperately need. As we blindly grope for answers, El Roi is there. He opens our eyes to see Him in Jesus, to see that He sees us, to see how He loves us, and to see all those around us who need to know He sees them.