“Then she [Hagar] called the name of the Lordwho spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?”” Genesis 16:13
When we hear that God sees everything, it’s often in the context of Him catching us in sin. Yet, when we really search Scripture, we find that He’s watching us with eyes of compassion more than with eyes of condemnation. In Genesis 16 we see God as El-Roi,which means, “The God Who sees.” This particular name of God comes from the story of Hagar, who learned firsthand that the name of God extends compassion.
Hagar is in a difficult situation because Abraham and Sarah didn’t wait on the Lord. When the child promised by God seemed delayed, they took matters into their own hands. Sarah decides that Hagar should be her surrogate in order for Abraham to have a son. But after Hagar conceives, she despises Sarah, and Sarah mistreats her. So, Hagar runs away.
In the midst of her pain, the angel of the Lord comes to comfort Hagar. Not only was God completely aware of everything happening in her present, He also saw and cared for her future. When He instructs Hagar to go back and submit to Sarah’s authority, she responds by saying, “You are a God Who sees.” When Hagar realized that God saw her; she saw Him more clearly. The origin of El Roi, the God Who sees, is a story of compassion, not condemnation.
The nature of God, revealed in the names of God, never changes. Matthew 9:36 tells us, “Seeing the people, He [Jesus] felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” The very fact that Jesus came reveals God’s compassion. God saw that we were without hope, condemned in our sin. So, He sent His only Son to die in our place; so that anyone who believes on Jesus will be saved.
When was the last time you felt hopeless and alone, like Hagar? Then call on the name of El Roi, the God Who sees your present and cares about your future. Like Hagar, you’ll learn to see Him clearly and trust Him fully. Are you “distressed and dispirited?” Then remember, the Good Shepherd sees your hurt and knows your circumstances. Do you think that the God Who counts the number of hairs on your head isn’t also paying attention to your pain? He’s not a neutral observer. As your Creator and Deliverer, He’s invested in your life, and He will not abandon you. Be encouraged today. The name of God extends compassion.