Christian Living

Hagar and El Roi, the God Who Sees

By Denise Kohlmeyer

She’d been mistreated by her mistress. She’d not wanted to do what was asked of her, but as a slave with no rights or opinions, she’d had no choice. Out of desperation, she’d finally fled because she couldn’t take the abuse and the pain anymore; and she quickly found herself alone and defenseless, without shelter or sustenance. And pregnant, no less.


To say she felt scared, lonely, and unloved is an understatement. She wondered, in her despair, if anyone cared about her or what was happening to her. Or her baby.


This was Hagar’s story in Genesis 16:1-13.


Can you relate to her? Perhaps not to her situation, but to the emotions she experienced: fear, loneliness, feeling unloved? Maybe your husband abandoned you and your children. Maybe you’ve lost your job or your home. Maybe your parents neglected or abused you as a child. Maybe your employer overlooks you and the hard work that you do. Maybe a friend has hurt or betrayed you.


Perhaps you’ve wondered the same: “Does anyone care about me? Does anyone know what I’m going through?” Perhaps you’ve even wondered if God cares and you’ve even cried out, “Do you see what I’m going through, God, and how bad it is?”


The answer to all these heart-rending questions, as it was for Hagar, is: Yes, he does!


Recently, I did a study on the names of God and was overwhelmed by the number by which He is known and the power and provision behind each name. As I typed them out, they filled six pages!


Here’s a small sampling:


Jehovah Rohi: “the Lord, my shepherd” – for when you need protection and provision                                            

Jehovah Shammah: “the Lord is there” – for when you need/want to feel his presence

Jehovah Rophe: “the Lord who heals” – for when you need some type of healing/restoration

Elohim Ozer Li: “God, my helper” – for when you need help of any kind

El Nekamoth: “God that avenges” – for when you need justice served in a situation


But the one that brought tears to my eyes was the name Hagar—Sarai and Abram’s Egyptian slave—gave to God after she fled from Sarai’s “harsh” treatment and found herself, weak and worried, by a spring at Shur. Interestingly, Shur was in the direction of Egypt, on a trail called “The Way of the Wells” which led travelers on their 300-mile journey to that country. Hagar was heading back to her homeland.


It was at one of these nine wells that God came to Hagar, and it is where Hagar—the only person in the Bible, and a woman, no less—who bestowed a name upon God: El Roi, “the God who sees.”


“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, you are a God of seeing (El Roi), for she said,

‘Truly, here I have seen him who looks after me’.” (v.13)


Maybe it’s the same with you right now. You feel lonely, scared, unloved. Take heart, sweet sister. Be encouraged. Because, as with Hagar:


God Sees You

You may have wondered, out of all the billions of people in this world, does God even know that you exist? Could he single you out as an individual, or are you just an unknown plebe in the mass of humanity?

Know that God sees you, and that you are known by him! Consider that he knows the very number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30). And everybody else’s head, for that matter!

Consider that your worth is more than the many sparrows in the sky (Luke 12:7).

Consider that he took an intimate interest in forming you, that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made; your works [that being you!] are wonderful” (Psalm 139:13-14). Which makes you precious to him as his created being.


Consider that he loves you so much, that he sent his only, precious son, Jesus Christ, to die a horrific death for you and your sins, so that you could be forgiven and be reconciled back to God, because he wants a relationship with you (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

Consider that you are his “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

That is how much you mean to God. That is how much El Roi sees you, his beloved daughter.


God Sees Your Situation

El Roi is not blind to your plight. Your situation has not taken him by surprise, even though it may have taken you by surprise. He is omniscient (all knowing). El Roi sees exactly what is happening to you, every second of the day. Your situations—your very life—is always before his eyes—both good and bad. Nothing—nothing!—escapes his divine notice or attention.


“Jesus knows us fully. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, our family history, our biological makeup, our worldview. He knows every nook and cranny of us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And he also knows suffering on an intense, personal level…He meets us in our downcast state and pours out grace upon us,” writes Stephen Altrogge in “The God Who Actually Knows What You’re Going Through,”


God Sees Your Need

I love the fact that El Roi saw Hagar and came to Hagar. He sought her out and arrived at the moment of her greatest need: to be reassured that she was loved and not forgotten, that she and her unborn child (a son she would name Ishmael) would be cared for. As “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,” God soothed Hagar’s worries and gave succor to her wounded, weary heart (Psalm 147:3).


As with Hagar, God also promises you that he will “never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). As Elohei Mikkarov, he is near to those who struggle, not matter what that struggle is: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.


Jeremiah learned this when God reassured this frightened prophet, who had to take God’s message to the stubborn, sometimes hostile Israelites, “Am I a God at hand [Elohei Mikkarov]…and not a God far away?” (Jeremiah 23:23). God was with Jeremiah, every trembling step of the way. As he is with us.


One of the most touching verses in Scripture that perfectly captures this truth of God’s heart toward us is found in Zephaniah, which states: “The Lord your God is with you. He’s mighty to deliver. He takes great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He rejoices over you with singing.” (3:17) 


It is in our greatest times of need that El Roi pours out his grace and mercy (Hebrews 4:14-16).


He also meets our physical needs when necessary. “Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-34).


Rejoice, sweet sister, God sees you! He sees exactly what you’re going through, because, to quote Hagar, “You are [El Roi] a God of seeing. Truly, here I have seen Him who looks after me.” Claim that promise, and “cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).







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