by Dena Dyer
She 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 NIV
Do you ever feel invisible–like no one notices or appreciates you? Are you walking through a dry or difficult wilderness season? If so, let the story of Hagar encourage you.
I had heard of Hagar, the slave of Sarah and Abraham who became the mother of Abraham’s son, Ishmael, when Sarah “gave” her to Abraham, but I never dug into her story until a few years ago, when I was writing a book about wounded women of the Bible.
Hagar was property, a person whose job was to serve Abraham and Sarah. This slave woman had no rights or freedom of her own.
And yet God saw Hagar. Her whole story is in Genesis 16 and 21, but I want to focus on a couple of verses. Hagar got pregnant by Abraham and mocked Sarah (presumably for her barrenness), so Hagar ran away towards her home in Egypt, into the desert.
In Genesis 16, we are told, “The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And He said, ‘Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’
“‘I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,’ she answered.
“Then the angel of the Lord told her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her.’ The angel added, ‘I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.’
…“She 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.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered” (Genesis 16:7-10, 13-14 NIV).
God gave Hagar a magnificent promise, especially for a slave woman (the lowest of the low in that society). And Hagar’s response wasn’t, “Why are you asking me to go back?” or “I won’t do it!”
Instead, she praised the One who met her in the desert–and she ended up being the only woman in Scripture to give God a name. How awesome is that?!
The name she gave God is “El Roi,” or “The God who sees me.”
Hagar went back and submitted to Sarah, though that must have been difficult. God blessed her for her obedience, though, because a few years later, Sarah and Abraham sent her packing, back to her people. Once again, she went through the desert, carrying her child with her. Only this time, she ran out of water, and believed she and her son were going to die. But once again, God met her in the wilderness. He showed her where a well was and saved their lives. Not only that, but the second time Hagar went through the wilderness, she was free. No longer would she be a slave!
Friends, you are freed by the blood of Jesus when you call on His name. You are seen just as Hagar was, no matter how invisible or overlooked you feel. You are loved by an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-merciful God. No matter what your past, your status, your circumstances, or how dry and lonely the wilderness is, God is with you and for you. He loves you more than you can even comprehend.
Let that truth sink deep into your soul…and be encouraged.
Prayer: Thank you, most Holy God, that you see me and love me. Help me to see You more clearly and love you more fervently. Amen.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Dena Dyer is an award-winning author, speaker, and non-profit leader. She loves encouraging hurting, harried women with humor and hope. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook, or at her website.
You’re invited to download a free copy of Dena’s devotional book, Grace for the Race, which uses real-life stories, Scripture, and gentle humor to soothe the souls of frazzled moms. By being honest and vulnerable about the ways God has shown Himself to her as she’s struggled with motherhood, Dena hopes to help women realize that they’re not alone, and they’re not crazy!
Join the conversation: Do you relate to Hagar’s story?