“Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?'” (Genesis 16:13)
Oh to be Seen! Known.
By someone who loves and cares for you.
At the start of every new semester at school, I make an effort to learn the names of all my students – eighty to ninety of them – on the first day of school. I make each one of them repeat their name every time I ask for it on day one, then I let my eyes rest on each one of them, mentally repeating their name, everytime I ask them a question.
At the end of the first class, I repeat all their names to them, even the more obscure ones of a different ethnicity. By day two, I can usually still remember at least 99% of them.
Imagine the look on their faces when I say hello to them in the halls by name throughout the first week!
I love it. The look on their faces. That look that says, “Wow – she knows my name!”
It is difficult to believe that the God of the Universe knows each of us by name. And not only that, but that we have His undivided attention. At every second of the day. We are not merely His student. We are His child.
Hagar was an Egyptian slavegirl, given to Abram by his wife, Sarai, to conceive a child. I cannot imagine being told to marry someone who owned me, and then forced to have a child with a man who did not even love me. Add to that indignity being treated like a piece of trash afterwards, taken out to the curb – not just me, but my child as well. It is too much to bear.
But God – the God of Love and Compassion – sees Hagar in her despair. He first gives her practical advice for a pregant slave woman in her situation: go back to her mistress and submit.
In her gratitude, Hagar cries out, “You-Are-the-God-Who-SeesYou-Are-the-God-Who-Sees!”
I recall a time before I became a Christian, a time when words cannot describe the sense of loneliness I felt. I was in university in my third year. I was desperately trying to pull my grades after having squandered the previous two years during which I had fallen into a a deep depression and consequent academic probation. My relationships were crumbling, I was deeply in debt, and my whole future was unraveling before my eyes. I no longer even knew who I was or whether there was a place for me in the world.
I was sitting on my bed, eyes entirely blinded by tears, with my textbooks open in front of me, when I suddenly stopped. I heard a voice in my heart that said, “Just keep going.” And it was as if my vision cleared, right then and there, and a sense of hope was restored in my spirit. The words in my textbook suddenly made sense, and like Hagar, I submitted to the voice I heard in my heart. I knew that somewhere out there, Someone, cared about me.
I did as I heard. I kept going.
When Hagar later gives birth to a son, things get really rough. She is cast out by her masters, along with her child. Basically left for dead.
But she is not forgotten. The God who loves her, who has seen her, opens her eyes and she sees a well of water.
I have always wondered why God would show such love to Hagar – a non-Israelite. Not much else is said about her except “God was with the lad,” (Genesis 21:20), her son, presumably because he was Abram’s son also. As for Hagar, herself, who knows? Did she continue to nurture a relationship with God based on her encounter with Him, or did she go her own way, falling into sin without a Saviour? I do not presume to fully understand God’s relationship to Gentiles before Christ, and my research is unclear. What I do know is that God sees us – then and now.
I am so thankful that He saw me, alone in my room, in my affliction. He knew me, even when I did not know Him and wondered, like Hagar, “‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?'” But God continued to speak to me numerous times throughout those years, continually reminding me that He knew my name, until finally, I knew His.
My prayer, today, is for all people to know this. This exquisite knowledge:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17)
He knows me!