Hagar. Ring a bell? Probably not. In the grand arc of the Old Testament story of God’s people she is little more than a footnote. Maybe it’s time to fix that, though, because the story of Hagar is rich with meaning for pretty much all of us today.
Hagar was a slave who, at the urging of his first wife, married her master and got pregnant. Afterwards her former mistress “mistreated her so much that she ran away.” The Bible tells us she wound up out in the middle of nowhere and was met by an angel of the Lord who confronted her about her situation and offered her a blessing. As a result of that encounter, she called out a new name for God, “El Roi.” El Roi means The God Who Sees.
The God Who Sees. That is our God. He sees not only our outward circumstances, but our inward struggles. Our loneliness. Our pain. Our brokenness. Our failure. Our grief. He knows who we are physically, but also mentally and emotionally as well. He sees the way we struggle with sin and the way our faith sometimes flickers in the winds of doubt, insecurity and uncertainty. He sees us for who we really are, not just today, for forever. He sees the finished product of His work in our lives, He sees who we will become. And because He sees us so clearly, we can be confident that He knows what we need, understands how we feel and follows our thoughts. El Roi sees us with a depth of knowledge we literally cannot understand.
Is there comfort to be had in knowing that about Him? Joy? Peace? For Hagar the answer was yes. I hope it is for you as well.
To read the full story of Hagar, look in Genesis 16.