“And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress.” Genesis 16:11 NLT
“Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”).”
Genesis 16:13-14 NLT
As human beings, it’s extremely common for us to desire acknowledgment and yearn for the approval of others. The parents of little children know how often their little ones desire to be seen and watched when they do a simple jump in the air or a somersault as if they were auditioning for Cirque du Soleil. “Mommy, watch this!” “Daddy, look what I can do!”
Within all of our hearts, which God created, we never truly grow out of this desire to be seen and approved of by the Father. However, we often seek to find this in the approval of other people and standards that are not the same as our Lord’s. We try to find significance and completion in created things instead of the Creator Himself.
In Genesis 16, we find this slave woman Hagar in a desperate situation. Abram(Abraham), the chosen man of God, was promised to have a son, but he and his wife Sarai(Sarah) could not get pregnant, so Sarai had given her servant Hagar over to have this baby with Abram instead. This might sound like the plotline of a bizarre reality TV show, but this was common in the time of the patriarchs. Sure enough, Hagar became pregnant with a son, but it was not the promised son God had intended. Hagar’s pregnancy caused Sarai to be extremely jealous, and Sarai treated her terribly.
Hagar was a woman without rights, protection or anyone who would look out for her. Because of Sarai‘s jealous rage, now Hagar and her son Ishmael we’re going to be driven out into the wilderness for doing nothing wrong. When no one else would protect her and she faced an uncertain terrifying future, the angel of the Lord shows up and tells Hagar that she would be greatly blessed and become the mother of a multitude of descendants of her own!
God saw her in that place. God knew her terror and heartache. God let her know that she was not alone. As Hagar acknowledges the Lord’s presence and care for her, she is equipped to face her problems head-on and walk in faith in the God who sees and hears His children.
In chapter 6 of Matthew, in the middle of Jesus’s famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us over and over to release the desire to be seen by others and to simply rest in the wonderful fact that God sees us. If we give to others in need, pray, fast or do any good deeds to be careful not to do it for people’s attention or admiration. Three times Jesus says that our Father, who sees in secret, will reward us openly. He later tells us in chapter 6 that we should not worry about the basic needs of life because God cares for us and will always provide.
When we can rest in the love of our Father, seek to please Him alone and trust in His care even when our situation seems to have no hope, then the God who sees and hears His children will show up and say, “Child, look what I can do!”
written by Chris Hill