Picture the scene. A young woman and her son are sitting in the desert. Thirsty and hungry, they cry out to God in hopelessness and desperation. Both had been recently kicked out their home and forced into homelessness. With no food and no money, they sit and weep. What will they do? Does God see them? Does He care? How can a loving God allow such a bad thing like that to happen to them?
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever been in such a low season in your life that you felt God didn’t see you? That’s how Hagar felt, Sarah’s handmaid. Forced to be a surrogate mother for Abraham’s illegitimate son, Ishmael, Hagar was a runaway, slave, and victim of cruel mistreatment and abuse by her master, Sarah. She didn't want to have Ishmael. Yet, she was made a promise by God that He would bless her and her son.
Reading's Hagar's story in Genesis, reminded me so much of myself. In Genesis 16, Hagar runs away from Sarah. She just couldn't take Sarah's physical abuse anymore. Her story reminds of the many times I have runaway from jobs, friendships, even family members to escape their unfair treatment of me only for God to tell me like He told Hagar to go back. Yes, God told Hagar to go back to her abuser. The woman who made her sleep with her husband, conceive a child with him, and then despise her because her husband had the audacity to develop feelings for her.
Even with all of that, God sent an angel to instruct Hagar, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her. I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count. “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery" (Genesis 16:9-11)." While Ishmael wasn't the promise child, God made a promise to Hagar that He would take care of her and her unborn child. This promise revelation and promise from God made Hagar proclaim God as El-Roi, the God who sees because she said, "You are the God who sees me, I have now seen the One who sees me (Genesis 16:13).
Hagar went back, and for little while things got better, but when the promise child, Isaac, was born things changed. Ishmael and him clashed and again Sarah took it out on Hagar, but this time instead on running away, Hagar was forcefully made to leave by Sarah. In 2015, God told me to go back to a job I had once quit only to get unjustly fired a few months later. Like Hagar, I found myself in wilderness season, confused and broken because God told me to go back only allowed me to get fired.
Go back to the scene, I opened with. Hagar and Ishmael have just put out of their home. Homeless, rejected, hungry, thirsty, and hopeless are the emotions both are feeling at that moment. Didn't God make a promise to Hagar that He would bless her and her son? Did the God whom she named El-Roi, the God who sees, not see her and her son suffering and in despair? As Hagar sat in the hot scorning sun, crying out in fear that she and her son would die, the Lord sent another angel to her. This time the angel asked her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation" (Genesis 21:17-18). Then the passage says, "God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink" (Genesis 21:19).
Once again, the Lord sent an angel to her to remind her that he saw her. He loved her and He would take care of her and son like He promised. The story of Hagar teaches us that God never leaves or forsakes us. Even in our darkest hour, He is right there. I am sure Hagar thought her and Ishmael were going to die in the desert. Both of their cries were signs that they were in desperate need of help. More than just water, they needed reassurance that El-Roi, the God who sees, still saw them. Perhaps, you need the same reassurance. Well, I am here to give it you.
There is a God who sees us amidst the setbacks, messiness, failures, heartbreak, grief, and despair in our lives. Right when we have given up all hope, the One who sees us shows up and answers our cries for help and reminds us that He loves us and has been and will always be there for us.
God sees how miserable you have been treated. He sees the abuses you have suffered. He sees that situation you are currently dealing with, which is beyond your control. Trust me, He sees you and in your most trying times, He is right there speaking to your heart. Just be still and listen and know that He is God. He will come through for you, just like He did for Hagar. In her time of distress, He saw her and opened her eyes. And I pray He does the same for you.
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