November 2022 Pastor’s Corner — The God Who Sees You

 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’ 

— Genesis 16:13

The story of Abram, Sarai and Hagar in Genesis 16 isn’t one we talk about very often, and when we do, it’s usually to make the point that we shouldn’t rush God’s plans or the consequences that come when we take matters into our own hands (which are very valid applications of the story).  But if we only focus on that part of the story, we miss something beautiful that happens.

If you don’t remember the story, let me recap briefly:  God has promised the childless Abram and Sarai more descendants than there are stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5-6).  But they are very old (86, in fact – Genesis 16:16) and are getting past childbearing years.  So Sarai gives her servant Hagar to Abram (a culturally acceptable but very bad idea), and she becomes pregnant.  Shockingly, Hagar starts to get a little “uppity” with her mistress (Genesis 16:4).  Sarai starts abusing Hagar, so Hagar runs away, deciding it’s better to risk crossing the Sinai desert in order to go home to Egypt than stay.  Alone, pregnant, with little to no supplies, what must Hagar had been thinking and feeling during those hot days and cold nights?  The story doesn’t tell us. 

But this is what the story does tell us:  Hagar is an Egyptian and not a Hebrew.  She never once prays to God.  As far as we know, she has no faith in the Lord and the thought of appealing to the God of Abram never crosses her mind.  She doesn’t even appeal to the pagan gods of her ancestors.  And yet, “The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.” (Gen. 16:7)  The angel of the Lord tells her to go back and submit to Sarai, but then promises, basically, that the promises made to Abram for his son (who hasn’t yet been born or conceived) will be given to Hagar’s son’s descendants. Her response to this is the verse at the top of the article. Nothing has changed regarding her circumstances, but Hagar is filled with hope and praise.

Why?  Because now she knows that she has been seen by the Lord.  In the midst of her distress and fear, she realizes that she is not alone.  Where she has feared for her future, she realizes that God has been and will continue to look after her.  Let me emphasize this again: God does nothing to change her situation, in fact He sends her back to Sarai.  And it’s likely that Ishmael didn’t experience the promised blessings himself (Genesis 16:12), but his descendants would be princes!  “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

Many times we feel the same as Hagar.  Lost in our afflictions, our sufferings, our struggles.  We are sure that God does not see or hear us in our distress, and we wonder if He even cares.  But if God saw Hagar, lost in the wilderness, then God sees you as well.  God is looking after you, even if you don’t see it.  And while your circumstances may not change (I pray they do!), His promises are still true and sure.  He is the God who sees, He is the One who looks after you.  Know that you are not alone or forsaken.  He is with you, even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

— Romans 8:38–39

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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