Wednesday, 11 July 2012
The God Who Sees
Hagar fled across the desert, away from the tent of her mistress, Sarai; away from her cruel words and stinging slaps. Tears blurred her vision as she stumbled and fell to her knees on the rocky ground beside the bubbling spring. Wrapping her arms around her unborn child, she succumbed to the waves of desolation washing over her. She was so absolutely alone.
Egypt, her homeland, lay beyond the spring on the road to Shur. So much time had passed since her abduction into slavery, she doubted she could find her way back. But she could not return to the abuse of her mistress. Sarai’s barrenness had become a weapon in the hands of Hagar. For once she had something Sarai wanted, a child fathered by the husband of her mistress. She could not help but despise the childless woman who retaliated cruelly, driving Hagar away.
A small sweet breeze lifted Hagar’s veil to reveal a man standing before her. She had not heard him approach yet there he stood not an arm’s length away. His face was strong and kind; his stance gracefully regal.
“Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
She wiped away her tears and gazed at him in wonder. How did he know her name and whom she served? She thought about running, in case he was sent by Sarai to fetch her back, but there was no sense of urgency or control in his attitude toward her. His question was caring, not accusatory. She felt as if he knew her well, though she had never seen him before.
“I am running away from my mistress,” she replied, not answering his second question because she did not know where she was going.
“Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” His command surprised her; even more his next words.
“I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count. You are now with child and you will have a son whose name shall be Ishmael, meaning "God hears", for the Lord has heard of your misery.”
He went on to describe the nature and future of her unborn son, however Hagar could only focus on one statement; the Lord had heard of her misery. Jehovah, God of her mistress, was aware of the plight of a poor maidservant. She looked up at the one standing before her, knowing she looked into the face of God. So why wasn’t she struck dead, as anyone would be who looked upon the living God? She did not know why, but she did know she was in the presence of God, the one who saw her. Not just her person, but the woman she was inside. He could see her heart, He knew her deepest thoughts, He cared about what she felt and experienced.
Suddenly the place where she knelt became hallowed ground, a place in need of commemoration. This spring on the road to Shur would forever be called Beer Lahai Roi, “well of the one who sees me and who lives.”
Hagar rose to her feet and turned back toward the tents of her mistress. The circumstances she returned to would be the same, but she was not. She had encountered Lahai Roi, the God who sees her. Knowing that made all the difference.
based on Genesis 16