Monday, April 1, 2013

The God Who Sees Me

Hagar was an Egyptian slave.  Her owner, Sarai, struggled with infertility, and as was the custom in that place at that time, Sarai offered her slave to her husband to bear her children.  The children would be treated as Sarai's even though she did not bear them.

When Hagar got pregnant, there was a not-so-subtle shift in power.  Now Hagar had something over her owner, and she started to look down on Sarai.  Sarai immediately fought to preserve her power over Hagar by complaining to Abram about Hagar's behavior and abusing her.  So Hagar ran away.

She ran to the desert, found a spring of water, and sat down.  What must she have been thinking and feeling in that moment?  The injustice of her life must have left a bitter taste in her mouth.  She'd run this far, but where was she to go next, as a runaway slave?  How would she care for herself and her baby?

It was there that an angel of the Lord found her and blessed her and promised that she would have a son because God heard her misery.  And she named God the God Who Sees Me.

Human suffering can be so isolating, particularly in a culture so bent on comfort that any mention of a hurt is met with attempts to problem solve or an immediate aversion to further conversation.  No one wants to reflect on suffering or to think it might happen to them.  It's a rare person who can simply sit with one who is suffering and empathize.  So those who are suffering are often left without community to walk with them through it.  We often feel alone and forgotten. 

Leaving aside for a moment the questions of why (like why does God allow suffering at all, or why did he provide relief for Hagar but not for me [my friend, my relative]?),  I find great comfort in this story.  It says something about the character of God, the infinite God who at this time was focused mostly on a guy named Abram to achieve his redemptive purpose for the entire world.  Still, he saw and cared for an Egyptian slave in the midst of her mistreatment.  He saw and ministered to her at a personal level.  Although he didn't fix her situation, indeed, he sent her back to the place she would be mistreated and told her that her son would have a hard time with his siblings, he demonstrated that he was with her even in that difficult place.

God is still the same today.  Even though there are all kinds of human calamities.  Even where there are millions of people suffering at any given time.  Even while God still has a redemptive purpose that is bigger than any one person.  When there is nothing else to hold on to, God is still the God Who Sees Me.

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