In His Name: El Roi – The God Who Sees
By Dot Bowen
She 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 (NIV)
Sarah and Abram had been married for years and longed for a child. God unexpectedly told Abram that He would bless him with a child. I can understand how difficult it is to wait on God and how Sarah grew tired of waiting on God to give her a child. Let's face it; Sarah was not getting any younger. Her biological clock had expired! There was no way humanly speaking that Sarah could have a child. As time went by, and with every negative pregnancy test, Sarah began to question if God really had promised them a child. I so relate to Sarah because of her impatience in waiting on God. I can’t think of anything harder than waiting on God to answer a prayer regarding a need or desire that only He can meet. I relate to Sarah because when Howard and I first married, a doctor told me that I would not be able to have children, but I will never forget the moment the doctor told me I was pregnant. I have spent time with many women over a cup of coffee as they wept and waited for God to give them a child—they were desperate for an answer to their prayers.
When we read Genesis 16, it’s as if Sarah has totally forgotten that God promised them a child. Or maybe in her mind, she decided that God meant Abram would have a child, but it wouldn’t be from her. Now, we are getting closer to another reason I can relate to Sarah. There have been times that I felt God speak to me in my heart regarding something, but when it didn’t happen within 24 hours, I began to rationalize and sometimes distort what God told me. The longer I waited, the more tempted I was to take the matter into my own hands and say God did it! I may be getting a little too transparent here, but it’s true. I have often questioned what I truly believed to be the voice of God speaking to me to the point that if I didn’t see God doing anything to make it come about, I looked for ways to make it happen. Can you relate? Have you ever felt like God whispered something in your heart concerning a prayer request, and after a period of waiting, you questioned if God really had spoken to you at all? If so, then you can relate to Sarah too!
Why would Sarah instruct her maidservant Hagar to sleep with Abram if she really believed she would have a child of her own? I believe as time passed, her waiting caused her to give up hope. With each day that passed, Sarah became more convinced that God could not be trusted. If she were to ever hear small footsteps in her home, she had to take matters in her own hands. As you read the story, you know that’s exactly what Sarah did. The sad part is that after Sarah had a child, she was not happy. As a matter of fact, it caused her to be miserable. Sarah’s lack of faith caused a division between her and God, her husband, and the woman who did what she asked her to do. Sarah became so miserable that she forced Hagar to leave even though she was pregnant with no place to go. As Hagar cried out to God, He spoke to her. Even though God knew Sarah had disobeyed Him, God still told Hagar to go back and submit to Sarah. When God asked Hagar to go back to the dysfunctional home, her response was beautiful. The one thing Hagar understood was that God knew the truth concerning her, and she was able to go back and know that God had seen her misery and cared. Hagar said, “You are the God who sees me and now I have seen the One who sees me.” She had seen El Roi, the God who sees. Can you imagine the comfort Hagar experienced knowing she was not alone because El Roi had met her and understood her pain?
I don’t know about you, but I am comforted knowing that no matter what my circumstance, I can be assured that God has His eyes upon me and He knows the truth. And when I’m hurting and feel I have no one to turn to, I know that God is a God who sees and is very much aware of my situation. I may feel God has forgotten me, but His Word is clear: God sees. God knows. And God has not forgotten. He is not limited by time, and He is not controlled by time. God will do what He promises no matter how long it takes. God answers prayers, and He answers them exactly at the right time. When time causes us to become weary, we can draw strength from El Roi, The God who Sees! He is a God that sees!
Further Reading Genesis 16, Psalm 33:18-19, 1 Samuel 16:7, Exodus 3:7