Being seen in the mess.
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“She [Hagar] gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
Genesis 16:13 New International Version
This verse is lovely, isn’t it? I want to be fully seen and loved, to be understood when I’m a mess or feel mistreated, don’t you? This name Hagar gives to God is a favorite of mine. El Roi: the God Who Sees. The God Who Sees me.
As I reread the context of this verse, I was disappointed. The story didn’t go how I remembered.
Summary: Hagar was a servant of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Sarai became impatient with God, who seemed slow in fulfilling His promise to give her a son. Sarai gave her servant, Hagar, to Abram to become pregnant for her. It happened. Hagar got mad. Sarai abused her. Hagar ran away. God finds Hagar weeping and comes to her in tenderness making promises. Hagar responds to God by naming Him “The God Who Sees” and obeys God’s directions for her.
My disappointment came in God’s promises. They didn’t fix anything! The description of what her son would be like seemed less than desirable. Then He told her to go back and submit to Sarai! WHAT?! I’m sure I’m missing cultural context in my understanding of Hagar’s comforted response to God. But one thing is clear, she knew God saw her and then she saw God and trusted His goodness. She beilieved that He could not only see her heart, but beyond her immediate reality and into the details of the story; past, present, and future.
El Roi not only sees us and holds our brokenness and beauty tenderly, but His view is of the bigger story around us. He sees the whole picture and meets us in the center of it all. He doesn’t often remove the mess surrounding us or in us, but He asks us to trust and follow Him, like Hagar, back into the mess.
It’s not always the answer we want. Yet the comfort is in seeing the God Who see us, and in knowing that He is good and can be trusted with all of ourselves and all of the mess.
Photo and text copyright Jennifer Brukiewa