El Roi: The God Who Sees
Have you ever felt invisible? Like nobody can see you or hear you? Maybe you feel like your presence and voice get drowned out in our busy world. You may find yourself just going through the motions, but feel like nothing you do is really making a difference. It’s a bad feeling.
Loneliness is another bad feeling. You may be in a situation where you’re all alone. Maybe you just moved out from your parents’ house and you’re spending your first night alone in a new apartment. Or maybe you have adult children and the nest is a little emptier than you imagined. Perhaps you have been seeking a spouse for many years, but still wake up alone each morning. Or maybe you found a spouse, enjoyed decades of marriage, and now find yourself living alone due to death or divorce. There could be people all around you, but for whatever reason, you just can’t find someone with whom to connect.
It also feels terrible if nobody remembers you. Not only do you feel invisible and lonely, but it seems like everyone has forgotten you even exist. There was once a young woman who felt that way. She was a slave, and had been forced to marry her elderly master and have his child because his wife was barren. As if this was not bad enough, the master’s first wife became very jealous and began to cruelly beat the pregnant slave. Her new husband did not defend her, but allowed his first wife to abuse her. She ran away from them and into the wilderness, but that’s not where her story ends.
This is a true story. You may know it; it’s from the Bible. The slave was Hagar, her master was Abram (before he became Abraham), and her master’s wife was Sarai (before she became Sarah). But there’s another character in this story whom we often overlook. Genesis 16:7 says “the Angel of the Lord found her.”
Who is this Angel of the Lord? Actually, it’s Jesus. Jesus was not only present for the earth’s creation, but He also visited several people before He came to earth as a human baby. This meeting with Hagar is one of Jesus’ pre-incarnate appearances. It was Jesus who found the invisible, lonely, and forgotten Hagar in the wilderness.
Jesus found Hagar because He was looking for her. He knew her name and who she worked for. He recognized her face and called her by name when He saw her. Jesus knew who Hagar was, and He came to find her in her hour of need.
Jesus spoke to Hagar in Genesis 16:8 and asked her, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?” This question wasn’t because He didn’t know. If Jesus knew Hagar was Sarai’s maid, then He knew where she was coming from. He must have also known where she was going, since He found her there. But He knew more about where she was going than even she did.
Hagar thought she was invisible, lonely, and forgotten, but that wasn’t the case at all. Jesus saw her, came to be with her, and knew all about her. He knew where she came from, who she worked for, what she looked like, what her name was, where she was going, and what He had planned for her future. Jesus told Hagar that she was pregnant with a son, who would be called Ishmael, and that he would become a great nation. Jesus knew Hagar better than she knew herself.
Hagar was overwhelmed at how well Jesus knew her. She responded by calling Him “You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees,” or El Roi, because of how He saw her. God sees all of us--the good, the bad, and the ugly--and He loves us completely. He saw Hagar, the slave girl who had been abandoned and abused. She felt invisible, lonely, and forgotten, but the God-Who-Sees saw her. Scripture tells us that He saw many other people who thought they had been forgotten.
El Roi saw Abraham and Sarah when they were far beyond the age of fertility. He saw the lonely, forgotten Tamar when she was twice widowed and her father-in-law denied her the husband he had promised. God saw Jacob when he thought his youngest son, Joseph, had died. He also saw Joseph, when he had been sold into slavery by his brothers, thrown into prison by his master, and forgotten by his friend, Pharaoh’s butler.
God saw the Israelites when they had been in slavery for 400 years. He saw the lonely, forgotten Naomi when she lost her husband and both of her sons in a land far from home . God saw the invisible, lonely Ruth when she was widowed and far away from her family. Jesus saw the forgotten Mary Magdalene when she was possessed by seven demons, the Samaritan woman at the well, the woman with the issue of blood, the thief on the cross beside Him, and you, the joy set before Him.
That’s right, just like God saw Hagar and all of these other people, He sees you. You may think you’re invisible, alone, and forgotten, but God sees you. El Roi knows your name, your face, who you are, where you’re coming from, and where you’re going. He knows your heart, your thoughts, your words, and your actions.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:4, 6:6, and 6:18 that “Your Heavenly Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you openly.” God even sees what you do in secret. That’s right, God knows your deepest, darkest secrets, and He loves you anyway.
So no matter how invisible, lonely, or forgotten you may feel, you are not alone. El Roi knows all about you. Take comfort in knowing that the God who made you has not forgotten you. El Roi sees you, right where you are right now. When the world turns away or moves along without you, He will never leave you nor forsake you. He’s the Friend that sticks closer than a brother, and He loves you with an unending love.