This past week my sister and I decided that the time had come to get our 85-year-old mom a “life alert” device. Apparently those cheesy commercials were sufficiently effective to motivate us to take action!
On a more serious note however, our dad passed away a year ago, and our mom now lives alone in Florida. With her lifestyle in mind, we determined that the device should have two features. First, the device should be wireless so that it can be used outside her apartment, especially because she takes early morning walks, often before anyone else is up in the neighborhood. Second, we determined that if she does fall, that the device not require a press of the button, rather, that it will sense from the sudden downward motion that she has fallen and respond accordingly. When a device with these two characteristics finally arrived, we tested it out by dropping it. Much to our surprise, the call center came over the speaker immediately: “Anne Orzio, is this an emergency?” Amazing! We are all now comforted by the simple fact that someone will find her if she falls, so much so that we could make our own commercial!
Now, let’s rewind thousands of years ago, to when a slave girl, Hagar, was comforted by the simple fact that God had found her. Hagar was a maidservant of Sarai, Abraham’s wife. After having been mistreated, she ran away into the desert.
“The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” Genesis 16:7-8
God found her, and called her by name. Imagine the surprise Hagar felt! She was a slave, pregnant by Abraham (then Abram), and alone in the desert. I am sure she was thinking life could not get any worse. And in that moment, God spoke to her. We see further that it was an incredible moment for Hagar, and she does something that I have not found elsewhere in Scripture—she gives God a name.
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.” Genesis 16:13
Throughout Scripture, names are very important, often reflecting a person’s character. Numerous times, God changes names, such as those of Abram, Sarai, Paul, and others, to signify a major shift in their walks with Him. Furthermore, God Himself has many names in Scripture. If I were to give God a name, what would it be? I find it interesting that Hagar recognizes this attribute of God: “You are a God of seeing.”
Hagar could have named God, the God who loves, or the God who rescues, or the God who controls everything. Incredibly, however, the most significant thing she came away with was simply, that God sees.
Haven’t we often felt invisible to the world? But just as Hagar recognized, God sees us when no one else does. We feel like no one gets us, God sees. We are alone in a new town, God sees. We are unmarried and long for companionship, God sees. We are grieving, God sees. We are overwhelmed with the trials of caring for aging relatives, God sees. And perhaps most importantly, we are sinning, God sees. We are never alone, and this may be the one most important attribute of God that will encourage us. Perhaps it is the most comforting thing you can tell someone who is in a hard place—God sees.