“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)
I have been ruminating on this passage for the last few weeks as well as itching to write about it (alas, been a smidge busy). The God who sees me…that sentence makes my heart beat a little faster. How many of us go through life wishing to be seen–really seen? Sure, there’s fame, where everyone knows who you are and paparazzi capture your every move on film. But that’s not really being seen.
To be seen means to be known, to be discovered. I sometimes think of the song, “Mr. Cellophane,” from the musical Chicago. In it, the man sings: “Cellophane, Mr. Cellophane, should have been my name, Mr. Cellophane. ’cause you can look right through me, walk right by me, and never know I’m there.”
Of course, he isn’t invisible…he means that nobody takes the time to get to know him, to explore his complexity. To them, he is disposable, unimportant, doesn’t matter.
In Genesis 16, Hagar–who was the handmaiden of Abram and Sarai–runs off to the desert after being mistreated by Sarai. The passage makes it clear she is there by her own doing:
“So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.” Genesis 16:3-4 (NIV).
I get the impression that Hagar was flaunting her pregnancy and Sarai was none too happy about it. So now Hagar finds herself on the run. But then the angel of the Lord shows up, tells her to go back, and gives her a prophecy for her descendants. It is then Hagar exclaims, “You are the God who sees me.” He saw her misery and her plight–even though she brought it on herself!–and came to her aid. What’s more, He sees her hopes and dreams (noticed in vs. 13 her excitement at having seen the Lord). She is known by Him.
It may be hard to find someone who sees us in this way. We put up walls for our protection, and sometimes people are too busy maintaining their own walls to scale someone else’s. But we are always seen and known by God. In the past few weeks, He’s even been showing me that He treasures even my most fleeting thoughts. He knows–and loves–every side of me and you…the good, bad, and ugly.
Let us now go “see” others as we rest securely in the One who sees us!