May 04, 2014

El Roi: "the God Who Sees"

Genesis 16

[Hagar] 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


Today’s story centers on the painful triangle of relationships between Abram, Sarai, and Sarai’s slave Hagar. The story con-tains weakness, jealousy, competition, contempt, scorn, rejec-tion, meanness, and other emotional violence. When the situa-tion becomes unbearable, Hagar runs away. But now she is in a desperate situation: pregnant and alone in the desert.

But there’s grace and mercy in this raw story too. The name for God in this text draws from the Hebrew word roi, which has to do with “looking,” “appearance,” “seeing,” and “sight.” Alone and utterly forsaken in the desert—in her darkest mo-ment—Hagar realizes that El Roi, “the God who sees,” has never lost sight of her.

Don’t we all find ourselves at times in desperate situations? Even if our circumstances are not desperate, they can cer-tainly be difficult at times, and we can feel as if we have no hope. But even in times of hopelessness, we can be assured: El Roi, “the God who sees,” is watching over us, seeing us, and providing for us in our darkest hour of need.

In our bleakest moments we too feel all alone. But El Roi, “the God who sees,” has never lost sight of us and promises to care for us. What greater assurance can we find?

Dear God, you see and care for us in all of our squabbles, struggles, and needs. Help us to know this through Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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