I have read the story of Hagar and Sarai many times, and I always come away with a new lesson. This week, I was struck by Hagar’s response to her encounter with God:
Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).
You know the story: Abram has been promised by God that he will be the father to descendants that outnumber the stars in the sky, but even though Abram believes God, his wife Sarai gets impatient. She talks Abram into lying with his servant Hagar, who gives Abram a son. Jealousy ensues. Hagar, a lowly servant who has now managed to out-do her mistress can’t help but get a little cocky about it. Even though Sarai talked her husband into sleeping with Hagar in the first place, when the pregnancy comes, Sarai makes Abram send Hagar away.
Even though she gets to come back, Hagar and her son, Ishmael, are eventually banished again. God promises Abram that Ishmael will also be the father of a nation, but He tells Hagar that Ishmael will always be set apart and in contention with his brothers. Still, Hagar finds a reason to praise.
You are the God who sees me, she says.
It’s hard to know the mind of a servant woman more than three centuries ago in a culture and world far removed from our capitalistic, electronic reality. But we can at least know that she would have had no thoughts of ever being any more than a mere servant. In other words, to be seen by God was to be validated as a person and not as a mere thing owned by others.
Having read these words this morning, I was struck by the beauty of the Cross. For, when Christ died for us, did He not see us? What a wonderful gift it is to realize that we can go forward each day knowing that God sees us because of Christ’s love for us.
Thinking like Hagar means knowing the enormous gift it is to be seen by God. Never take it for granted. If you hold this truth to your heart each day, how much easier it will be to walk in the steps of Christ, loving others as we ourselves want to be loved. We, too, have the ability to see.