February 22

The God Who Sees

Genesis 16:9-13 The Angel of the LORD said to [Hagar, Sarah’s maid, mother of Abraham’s “natural child” Ishmael], “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.”….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?”

There are many names of God in the Old Testament, all testifying to different aspects of His character. He is called “God who” heals, provides, is our peace, and is our banner, among several other names. Used only once, however, is Hagar’s appellation: You-Are-The-God-Who-Sees.

We might say, “Well, of course He sees!” Psalm 33:13 says “The LORD looks from heaven; he sees all the sons of men.” And Hebrews 4:13 reminds us that “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” So what’s special about this particular act of seeing that the Scriptures preserve it as one of God’s names?

We are given little explanation beyond Hagar’s words, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Perhaps the combination of her realization that God saw her situation and that He also allowed Himself to be seen by her is what is behind this unusual statement.

Yet it’s easy to understand her surprise that the Lord would truly see her. She was a slave girl, the lowest possible social position. She had been given to Abraham to help Abraham and Sarah have a child she would have no claim on. Then Hagar developed a bad attitude toward her mistress, and Sarah unfortunately responded in kind. Seeing the whole mess, including the division between Abraham and Sarah over the whole thing, Hagar made things worse by disobediently heading out to the inhospitable wilderness. Finally giving up, she put her infant child a short distance away, waiting for him to die.

This is about as messy a situation as can be imagined; there is nothing right about any of this. Hagar took a bad situation, in which she had a major part, and made it infinitely worse by taking off and despairing. Yet God saw. God saw not at a cool distance, but saw her whole situation—her earlier mistakes, her despair, her precarious circumstances—with compassion. He came to her not in judgment, though He would have been justified in bringing rebuke. Instead, He came with a soft word, direction, and a promise.

We may make a real mess of things at times, and feel we deserve the situation we find ourselves in. We do reap what we sow sometimes. But God still sees. He sees everything. Nothing is so awful, or complicated, or sinful, that He doesn’t see and understand. And nothing is so messy that it is beyond His ability to rescue and restore.

Prayer: Father, thank You that You “get” me and every circumstance I find myself in. Thank You that I can’t mess up beyond Your ability to see and understand it. Thank You for having a plan to get me out. Help me to be humble enough to work with it.