“Mommy are you watching? Look at me!” If you are a parent or have ever been around children, you know that this question is often on their lips. Children want to be seen by us, to know that they are important and noticed. As adults we are not much different. Perhaps one of the most important times that we yearn to be seen is when we are hurting, when we feel as if the walls are closing in around us and pain is unbearable. And isn’t it true that in those times we can sometimes feel the most invisible?
I am going through the book of Ruth with a group of precious women, and this past week we talked about affliction or suffering. At the end of Ruth chapter one, Naomi is in a deep depression. She has lost her husband and her two sons and feels empty, alone, She even believes that God’s hand has turned against her. If we are honest, haven’t we all felt like that at one time or another? If you have read the book of Ruth, you know that God has not forgotten about Naomi and indeed has a plan for her. It is one of the reasons the book is so beloved.
Before Naomi, there was a woman named Hagar, who went through her own type of affliction. Look back to Genesis 16. God had promised Abraham a son to carry on his name and give him numerous descendants. The only problem was his wife Sarah was barren. So they took matters into their own hands, as we often do. Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her maidservant Hagar to produce an heir. The plan worked and Hagar got pregnant, but soon after Sarah became jealous and mistreated her. (No surprise there!) Hagar decided to run away from Sarah into the desert.
Hagar probably felt pretty invisible huh? She was the lowest on the totem pole. She was bullied by THE matriarch in the camp, and probably felt helpless, alone, invisible. She was about to find out that she was anything but. The Almighty God sent an angel out after Hagar in the desert. In Genesis 16:11 (ESV), the angel 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.
This is the first time the word “affliction” is used in Scripture. Thanks a lot Sarah!!! Not a great to start off women’s relationships in Scripture ha! In all seriousness, my favorite part of this story is what happened in verse 11.
So [Hagar] called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly I have seen Him who looks after me.”
Is that not incredible?! Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant, gave the God of Israel a name, El Roi! And that is still one of His names today! He doesn’t change. Don’t you think if God pursued Hagar in the midst of her affliction, that He still pursues us? He sees what you are going through; you are not invisible to Him. Even if you feel as if no one else care, He does. Pour out your heart to the God who Sees and let Him comfort you with a peace only He can provide.