The God Who Sees Me | Genesis 16
Welcome to Real Life. When we run and hide, there is someone who cares enough to come looking.
My keyboard must be broken.
I keep hitting the escape key—but I’m still here.
When life overwhelms us—when we’re hurt, confused, and troubled—we often run. We try to escape. We stop answering the phone. We binge Netflix. We open the fridge. We uncork the bottle. No matter where we hide, someone sees us. No matter where we run, someone comes looking for us. He is the Good Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to find one lost sheep.
Throughout the Holy Script, God reveals this aspect of his character. In Genesis, before the law and the prophets, he seeks a young runaway. Her story begins with a promise God made to Abram (before renaming him Abraham). “Look at the stars. Can you count them? So shall your offspring be.”
One issue mocks the fulfillment of this promise. Abram’s wife Sarai is barren. The pain of infertility cuts deep. She offers Abram Plan B: bear children for us through my slave Hagar. (Though today this evokes a “Yuck!”, it was common practice then.) Did Hagar have a choice? As a young servant, maybe not. Did Abram pray and ask God for direction? Definitely not. He takes Hagar as his second wife.
Once Hagar is pregnant, she despises Sarai. I am giving Abram what you never could. Sarai blames Abram. (Of course, you and I would never deflect the culpability of our poor choices onto others.) Instead of stepping in as peacemaker, Abram withdraws. Hagar’s in your hands. Do whatever you think is best. So, Sarai mistreats Hagar. She flees!
Is Abram concerned? Does he run after his young wife? No. But there is someone who cares. The angel of the Lord runs after Hagar; the Good Shepherd seeks his lost lamb. He finds her near a spring in the desert and asks,
“Hagar, where are you coming from, and where are you going?”
The Lord sees Hagar. He knows her name. He does not treat her as a powerless slave. Although God knew every detail of her situation, he initiates a relationship with Hagar by asking questions.
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” Hagar replies to the first question. That one’s easy. Most of us know where we’ve been. She fails to answer the second. That one’s more difficult. When we run in the heat of the moment, we don’t always consider tomorrow. We just need out NOW!
In the absence of Hagar’s response, God provides direction. “Go back and submit to your mistress.” Check your attitude. Humble yourself, Hagar. But he also makes a lavish promise that mirrors his promise to Abram. “Your descendants will be too numerous to count.” And more specifically, “You will give birth to a son. Name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your misery.”
Did Hagar know she was speaking with God? Oh, yes! For this seemingly insignificant young woman is the first person in the Bible to give our God a name.
“You are the God who sees me.”
You and I may feel unknown, unseen, unloved. But there is a God who sees us. There is a God who hears our misery. When we run and hide, he comes looking for us, asking, “Where are you coming from and where are you going?” Because I care. I know you. I love you. I have good plans for your future. I am the God who sees you.
I pray for the one who feels alone,
Who is overwhelmed and needs to escape.
I pray she or he will not run away,
But instead she or he will run to you.
For you see us, you know our names,
You hear us when we cry out in misery.
You have good plans for our todays and our tomorrows.
We can trust you with the deep needs and fears and longings of our hearts.
We love you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Taking it further:
- David beautifully describes this all-seeing-into-me nature of our God in Psalm 139:
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
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.
Psalm 139:1–14 (NIV)
- Waymaker by Ann Voskamp inspired this blog. I highly recommend both her book and Bible study. If you are in the Cleveland area, I’ll be teaching Waymaker for women beginning March 5 at Grace CMA Church. I’d love to see you there!
Image credit: solitary walk free photo by lusi
 Genesis 15:5
 This occurs before God renamed Sarai as Sarah.
 Though interpretations vary, the traditional Christian interpretation is that the angel of the Lord was a preincarnate manifestation of Christ as God’s messenger servant.
 Ishmael means God hears.