Written by: Camille Knott
The wilderness, dark and lonely is a place that thrives under isolation and heartache. It is the place designed to make you feel forgotten. A few years ago, I found myself in my darkest season, deep in the wilderness. I was broken, hurt, and completely alone. I saw no way out, so I sat in frustration and hopelessness. I had been completely engulfed by the lies of the enemy and the brokenness of my own heart.
In Genesis 16, we read the story of Sarai and Hagar. Sarai, the one that God promised a child to, barren and desperate to be a mother took matters into her own hands. She exploited her servant Hagar and forced her to become the surrogate mother she never really wanted. Angry and filled with despair when Sarai realized the reality that all of her fears and insecurities had come true- she was the reason they hadn’t gotten pregnant- she sends Hagar away. Hagar, used and thrown out, flees into the wilderness. She trusted Sarai and Abram but they abused their authority and used her for their own gain.
To be honest with you, I have felt a lot like both of these women at some point in my life. I have been Sarai. Impatient and ready to see the goodness of God fulfilled; I’ve taken matters into my own hands. I’ve jumped into broken relationships. I’ve idolized marriage as the ultimate in life. I have tried to play God only to see my broken human nature so weak in the flesh. I have been exploited and hurt like Hagar. I have been thrown out like a dirty cloth. My heart completely broken as people I trusted used my insecurities and fears to shame me and hurt me. I believed these toxic relationships were the best that I could find, giving into the lies of the enemy that I was unlovable and forgotten.
Sarai and Hagar’s stories do not end in despair and heartache but instead we see God later provide the child he promised to Sarai and we see God meet Hagar in the wilderness. He is El Roi - the God that sees. He sees Hagar’s pain and not only does he see her but he goes to her. He meets her in midst of her brokenness. He tells her to go back, he has a plan. He tells her she is no longer alone. He tells her he will provide for her. He tells her she is loved. He meets her and restores her heart.
Our God is abounding in mercy, He never once has forgotten us, never once has He looked away from us. In that deep-seated darkness that I graciously allowed to overwhelm me and hold me, the God that sees met me. He held my hand and reminded me that He has seen the hurt that has happened to me. He didn’t forget me. He wasn’t neglecting me, He has been pursuing me all along. His heart was broken as mine was. He saw me when I acted like Sarai and refused to trust Him and His timing. He saw me when I was exploited and thrown away as trash like Hagar. He sees me now.
My favorite part of this Scripture is that Hagar was an Egyptian servant. Our God wasn’t her God. But He still saw her and He still met her, because He is the God that deeply loves us and pursues us always. He used this tragic season to chase after Hagar’s heart. Our God is always up to something good.
He is good and rich in mercy. He is El Roi, the God that sees. No matter what season you are in, whether you are acting as a Sarai or you have been hurt like Hagar, you are known and you are loved by El Roi, the God that sees.