She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her,
“You’re the God who sees me!”
“Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!” (Genesis 16:13 The Message Bible)
The passage above comes from the story of Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. A fugitive from her Master’s house due to the harsh treatment of her mistress, Hagar was now alone, without any means to support herself or even survive, though she carried the firstborn son of Abraham in her womb. She had been the victim of an ill conceived plan by Abraham and his wife to try and bring the promise of God to pass by their own means rather than trusting to God and His process. As an Egyptian, she would not likely have heard of Jehovah until she came into the the house of the man of God whose wife it was that treated her harshly when she grew jealous of her pregnant servant.
This would not be the last time God’s people would represent Him poorly to those don’t know Him, and there can be little doubt that Hagar did not expect to be shown mercy by her Master’s God while she suffered in her exile. Yet it was as she sat by the desert spring that the angel of the Lord appeared and let her know that she was not alone in her isolation and grief. He asked her, “…where have you come from, and where are you going?” This isn’t a question God asks of anyone because He doesn’t know. He asks because He realizes that we don’t know. God assured Hagar that He had a plan for both her life and that of her son, and in that revelation she discovered a God who is personal, compassionate, and accessible. She came to that spring only knowing Him as her Master’s God, but she left there knowing Him as her God; the God who sees.
Some years ago I was ministering in Bakersfield, California at a church pastored by a friend of mine. After I finished my message, God pointed out a young man to me in the crowd. I called him up and spoke what God had given me for him. I told him, “Young man, God says that you are his first string!” I knew I was using an analogy that referenced the sports world, referring to one who is in the starting lineup, but I did not know until the service was over what that word had meant to him. His mother caught up with me and told me, “You don’t know what you said to him. Last night the football season ended. He never played a single snap. He sat on the bench all season as a third string player.” Obviously, this young man was feeling all the associated feelings young people feel in the highly competitive, peer pressure driven world that is High School. But in that moment at the front of that church, God let that young man know that there are worlds of infinitely greater importance than High School football, and that while he may have been overlooked by his peers, his teammates, and his coaches, He was not overlooked by the God who sees.
In that same service there was a middle aged couple sitting in the very front row about whom the pastor made an announcement to the congregation. They were soon to be married, and everyone was jubilant on their behalf over the good news. However, at one point in the service as I was ministering to that crowd, the Lord showed me that she had deep emotional scars from past abuse. I knew God well enough to trust Him, but I wavered in doubt since they had both seemed so happy when the pastor had announced their upcoming marriage. As I began to speak in general terms about the debilitating effects of abuse and how it can cripple us in life and cause our relationships to suffer, she began to break down and weep. I hadn’t even called her out for prayer, but the God who sees pointed her out to her own heart as He spoke to her in that moment of ministry. He did not want her taking the baggage of her past hurts into this new relationship, only to see it sabotaged by fear and mistrust. No one could have known to look at her that she suffered in that way, but there is a God who sees beyond the surface and knows our every pain.
Years later I was ministering in a church in Charlottesville, Virginia, home to the University of Virginia, founded by Presidents Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. It was in a wonderful church, and I was ministering with a fellow traveling minister in the service when the Lord spoke to me about someone in the crowd who had a problem with their kidneys. Again, for whatever reason, I hesitated and prayed for someone else before finally stepping out and describing what I had received from God. When I shared the word of knowledge God had given me, a tall, young man came from the back of the auditorium to receive prayer. When we ministered to Him, God met him in a powerful way and he spent the rest of the service on his back in the front of the church as the Spirit of God ministered healing and life to his body. On Friday night, when testimonies were asked for, this young man who had looked so drawn and pale on the Tuesday night when we had prayed for him, literally bounded to the front like a gazelle. It was obvious that God had done a work in his life. He testified that he had been recently diagnosed with the same kidney condition that his mother had died from some years before. From a medical standpoint, his case could have gone the same way, but that night the God who sees visited him in the midst of a crowd of people in a local Virginian church.
These stories are not told as mere stories in themselves, but to illustrate the fact that though we may feel isolated, alone, and desperate in an indifferent world, surrounded by people often too preoccupied with their own challenges to notice us in our suffering, there is a God who sees. More than that, the Bible tells us that He entered time and space and became one of us that He might reveal the Father’s love, not only in what He taught but in the most selfless act of personal sacrifice the universe will ever know. You are not alone. God sees, God knows, and God cares. He’s ready to meet you right now at your point of need. If you will call on Him, you will not be disappointed. When we come to know Him as the God who sees us right where we are, then, like Hagar, we too see Him in a new way and come to know Him for ourselves.