The God Who Sees
by Michael Green
October 17, 2015
7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, 8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.
6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. 7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” 13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”
Sometimes, my mind tells me that God doesn’t see me. He doesn’t see the struggles in my life or, more specifically, the inward battles of my soul. Often, there seems to be a disconnection between the heavenly realm where God has big problems to solve and the earthly realm where my smaller problems seem too big for me to solve.
But, that is not how God operates according to the Bible. God is intimately acquainted with the details of our lives and is personally invested in the well-being of our souls. The God of the Bible is the God who sees all, including me. David knew that. In Psalm 31:7-8, he writes that God has seen his affliction and he rejoices in the fact that the LORD’s love is unwavering. In other words, God sees the distresses of David’s heart, cares for him in that distress, and is faithful to deliver him from it, one way or another.
I find the story of Hagar and Ishmael to be a particularly poignant picture of this concept. You can read about it in Genesis 16. When Abraham’s wife Sarai can’t get pregnant, Sarai hatches a plan to have him continue his line through their Egyptian servant Hagar, knowing all the while that God has promised to provide Abraham and Sarai with many, many descendants. Hagar goes along with the plan and gets pregnant, causing Sarai to become extremely jealous.
If you know anything about the story, you know that Hagar is not a main character with regard to the themes of the Bible that are being developed. The nation of Israel, for example, will come through Sarai, not Hagar. So, Hagar could easily be dismissed without much fuss. She could be sent away and the story could go on just fine. That’s exactly what Sarai proceeds to do. She sends her away.
But, God sees Hagar in her distress, and the angel of the LORD goes to her. This encounter leaves an indelible mark on Hagar’s soul. As a matter of fact, completely contrary to the way things typically work in the Bible, she comes up with a name for God instead of vice versa. Moved by this event, she states that God is “a God of seeing” and that she “has seen him who looks after [her]” (v. 13).
God doesn’t change. He still sees. He still sees us, right where we are at. He still cares; and He still looks after us. God proved it by sending His Son for us. The Son of God now prepares a place for those that have trusted in Him, and He will come back again to deliver them from all distress one final time.