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By Makenna Nahorniak
I am constantly bewildered by the complexity of the storyline God has created through each and every life— the value embedded deep within the existence of each person.
He passionately loves and relentlessly pursues both the seemingly put together and those who are so obviously falling apart. There is great comfort in knowing that God has not only full comprehended the subterranean, elaborate longings of our hearts, but He has fastened our passions and callings within the inmost parts of our beings. Yes, friends— there is assurance that we are known and seen and treasured by our Father. Isn’t this a lovely thought?
Surely it is, but how often do we find ourselves downtrodden by the way others have perceived us? There is pain and heartache in feeling misunderstood, unseen, less than suitable for the tasks God calls us to. We play into this on a daily basis by measuring the righteousness and merit in one another. We’re left with an incomplete and inaccurate assessment of ourselves and one another in this all-consuming struggle to know the details and cracks in each story.
What if I told you that our God, indeed, is a God who sees beyond the flaws in our character and into the beautiful things He is making out of us? One of my favorite titles for God is El Roi, meaning, “The God who sees me.” His ability to thoroughly examine the depths of our hearts— both the unappealing, dark areas of our naturally sinful beings and the unique ribbons of color He pieced together at the beginning of time through Hagar’s story in Genesis 16. It’s a messy story, but God has always been one to magnificently display His glory even while sin threatens to create chaos.
The Lord had promised Sarai and Abram a child from whom a great and populous nation would be established. As the couple approached old age, they became weary of waiting for the Lord to fulfill His perfect plan and purpose on His own time, and decided to take matters into their own hands. Sarai turned to her Egyptian servant, Hagar to bear Abram’s child. While this may have seemed like a wonderful plan at the time, God’s divine plan doesn’t require human assistance, but rather, it required trust, faith and willingness. Hagar shortly learned that she was pregnant with Abram’s child, but this hardly solved their problems.
Genesis 16:5 says, “And Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!”
As the tension thickened, Hagar fled from her servanthood seeing as though Sarai “dealt harshly with her.” (verse 6) Just when things seem hopeless and beyond repair, the Lord steps in with His seeing eyes and sends an angel to speak to Hagar on His behalf. Verses 10-12 explain, “The angel of the Lord also said to her, I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.’ And the angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”
I can imagine Hagar felt belittled and afraid before these promises from the Lord were spoken over her; before she took a moment to remember His continuous presence in her life regardless of the hardships she would face throughout her life. Scripture is clear; she returns to the truth that God offers in verses 13 and 14: “So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing.’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me.”
Oh, how sweet it is to remember the Lord’s careful watch over us when we are caught in turmoil and desperation. While we wander and flee, His Words will find us and revive our hearts once again. He teaches us through stories like that of Hagar that He sees beyond the cracks, the unexpected twists and turns and the severe problems caused by mankind’s lack of faith. While we see the mess-ups, the failures and the dead-ends, our God, El Roi, sees who each of us is becoming.
Let us mirror His willingness to see past the garbage in our lives and call us into a life of pursuing holiness by encouraging those around us and bringing their potential in the Kingdom of God to the light through our words and actions as we move forward.
Makenna Nahorniak is a senior at Christian Life School. She enjoys leading worship, singing, reading, writing and using her words to encourage others’ hearts.