El Roi – ‘the God who sees me’ only appears once in all of Scripture. El is the preface used to describe God and Roi reveals His character as ‘seeing me’. This aspect of God was revealed to a woman, who was an Egyptian slave. God was revealing His care and compassion for those who are disadvantaged and distressed, regardless of their nationality, status, or social position.
What does ‘El Roi’ mean?
El Roi is the God who sees and cares about our needs as individuals. As the psalmists have written, God who ‘watches over our coming and going’ and ‘who is familiar with all our ways’. And whom Jesus declared, has numbered the very hairs of our heads. This is God who sees and knows everything about us, who cares for us.
The Story of Hagar
Hagar was an Egyptian woman who was a slave in the household of Abram and Sarai. How she got to be there we don’t know, but Abram had at one time gone down to Egypt in search of food during a bout of famine. But, that is another story….
Scripture tells us that during his time in Egypt Abram gained livestock and servants, and left with greater wealth than when he arrived. This may have been the time when Hagar entered his household as a slave.
Hagar’s story is of someone who had no rights of her own and who was treated that way by other people, with no regard to her personal feelings. But here, in her story, God reveals an important aspect of His character, that He cares for the vulnerable, for the overlooked, and the undervalued.
When God Makes You Wait
Abram and Sarai were living through a time of waiting. God had given Abram a promise of an heir but as the years went by without any sign of the promise being fulfilled, they became impatient. They tried to bring about the fulfillment of God’s word by their own ideas and methods. This did not eliminate them from the promise, for God’s word never fails, but it had distressing and long term consequences.
Tired of Waiting on God?
There are definite benefits to waiting well as we wait on God…
Sarai ‘gave’ her Egyptian slave to Abram to establish an heir through Hagar. This would not have been uncommon at that time, and any child born would ‘belong’ to the slave owners, in this case, Abram and Sarai.
But when Hagar became pregnant the balance in her relationship with Sarai shifted. One had what the other one so desperately wanted, and couldn’t have at that time. Sometimes it can be hard to see other people receiving what we long for and to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice’. The reality of the situation hit Sarai badly and she complained to her husband about Hagar’s attitude. This was all his fault!
Sarai told Abram, ”It’s all your fault that I am suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she treats me like I’m nothing. May God decide which of us is right.”Genesis 16:5 MSG
Not Such a Good Idea!
This can be a difficult truth to face in our own lives, that some of our messes are of our own making. Sometimes our good ideas are not in line with God’s ideal. There are consequences to our hasty decisions, quick fixes, and poor choices. But, thankfully, God is gracious to us and faithful to His word.
Check – Are our good ideas, God’s ideal?Tweet
Abram does not take responsibility for this situation and hands it back to Sarai to deal with. In this increasingly painful situation Sarai mistreats Hagar, who responds by running away into the desert. It is there in the wilderness, an empty, desolate place, that she encounters an angel of the Lord.
El Roi – The God Who Sees Me
The angel of the Lord speaks a clear message to Hagar, to go back and to submit to her mistress – the very lesson she was running away from. But with this command comes encouragement and a promise of blessing. God promised that she would have a son, and her descendants would be numerous. Hagar was to name her son Ishmael – meaning ‘God hears’. His name would be a constant reminder that she was not overlooked and not forgotten.
Sometimes it is enough to know that someone hears and acknowledges what we are going through. But to know that God hears and understands means everything.
Hagar gave this name to the Lord who had spoken to her:
“You are the God who sees me, for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”Genesis 16:13
Sometimes it is enough to know that someone sees and acknowledges our situation. But to know that God sees and cares changes everything.
God Gives Hope to the Hopeless
Abram and Sarai had to wait a long time for God to fulfill His promise to them. It would be in God’s perfect timing, when all-natural hope was lost. Then they would know without any doubt that their son was a gift from God and that nothing is too hard for the Lord! Meanwhile Hagar was also living with a promise from God, that her son would thrive and prosper and that God heard her cries, saw her situation, and cared for her.
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”Psalm 31:24
There may be times when we feel isolated and alone, far from family and friends. We can be in an unfamiliar place and struggling with a difficult situation and feel that no-one sees or acknowledges what we are going through. But that is not true.
Sometimes we may feel small and insignificant, even when surrounded by people who love us. We may not yet have found our niche, the place that God has created for us to flourish and thrive. And we may feel that we have no voice, that no-one hears or acknowledges what we have to say. But that is not true.
Be encouraged that you are loved by God, and you are visible to Him. Each one of us is precious in His sight. Come to know ‘El Roi’, the aspect of God’s character that cares about you as an individual, and the peace and assurance that it brings.
Look ahead with confidence, that as children of God, we have a Heavenly Father who is interested in the details of our lives. God knows everything about us, and He is everything that we need.
3 Scriptures of Hope and Encouragement
God sees – “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar: You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” Psalm 139: 1-3
God hears – “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15
God cares – “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7