The God Who Sees

pupil“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare exclaimed. Well, a lot actually. That’s why you and I raise our eyebrows when we find out that parents named their child Hashtag, Phelony, Ikea, Adorabell or Shady. Do they have any idea what they’ve just done to their son or daughter? We feel bad for these kids because we know your name is a big deal.

Names are a big deal in the Bible too. They often foretold a person’s story or unique feature of his or her character. Think of Jacob (heel grabber – Gen. 27:36) or Moses (his name comes from the verb “to draw out”). Some even received a new name due to a dramatic life event. Sarai became Sarah (mother of many nations) and Jesus turned Simon’s name into Peter (rock – Mat. 16:18).

The Bible tells us that God has many different names. Each name reflects a different part of his multi-faceted character, like a magnificent diamond. God’s name is so glorious that it simply can’t be captured fully in just a few syllables. “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth” (Ps. 8:1).

God reveals himself as El Roi, the God who sees (El is a Hebrew word for “God” and Roi comes from the verb “to see”). It is Abraham’s concubine, Hagar, who declares this grand name of God (Gen. 16:13). And we feel the full weight of this name of God when we consider the situation in which she pronounced it.

At this point in her life, Hagar was pregnant with Abraham’s child, thanks to Sarai’s poor suggestion, although Abraham can’t claim innocence. This try-to-give-God-a-hand plan exploded in full-blown rivalry in Abraham’s home. Hagar showed contempt for Sarai who fired back by being so harsh with Hagar that she finally ran away into the desert.

And that is where the Angel of the Lord finds her (Gen. 16:7). A conversation follows. Hagar is told to return to Sarai with a different attitude. But she also receives a promise. God would see to it that she would bear a son. And though his life would be marked by conflict and aggression, Ishmael's descendants would be too numerous to count (Gen. 16:10).

Exposed to the rigors of the rugged terrain and an easy prey for cruel nomadic travelers this pregnant woman meets Abraham’s God. He saw Hagar and gave her hope. “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me” (Gen. 16:13).

God doesn't overlook us, see through us or past us.

God has not changed. His name is still El Roi. God notices and God knows. He watches over his people. His modus operandi is not cold, distant and clinically detached. We’re not his client; we are not a case. No detail of your life is unimportant to him. Nothing escapes his watchful eye. God doesn’t overlook us, see through us or past us to someone more talented or less messed up. God sees you, your needs and your afflictions (Ps. 34:15). He cares and when the time is ripe, he will act.

And if we’re ever tempted to doubt (and who isn't), we only need to lift up our eyes to Calvary. Does Jesus care? Oh yes, he cares. I know he cares. The cross, that despicable yet beautiful cross is strong enough to silence every objection and quench every doubt. Truly, there we gaze upon One who looked after us.