How do you react when everything seems to be going wrong? Sometimes your fight or flight kicks in. Flight seems to be the first choice for many of us. We just want to get away from everything, crawl under a rock and try to hide from it. A pity party is also a popular choice. There’s nothing like giving up and complaining that life just isn’t fair. Then there’s the “Why, God” approach. We complain to God about how we’re being treated and wonder if He even cares. I can say I’ve been through all these at one time or another. However, there’s also the choice to let hard times push us closer to God. When nothing makes sense, it only makes sense to search for the One who can make sense of it all. He also is an excellent place of refuge.
In Genesis 16, Abram and Sarai had decided to help God fulfill His promise to them of making them parents. Sarai gave her servant Hagar to Abram to have a kid with, then they would take the kid and raise him. Except when Hagar got pregnant, she began to look down on Sarai. SoSarai became vengeful and treated Hagar so harshly that she chose the flight option. While she was away, desperate, broken and in need, God found her and sent His angel. After giving her a promise for her soon to be born son Ishmael, she gained hope. In verse 13 it says, “Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, ‘You are the God who sees me.’ She also said, ‘Have I truly seen the One who sees me?’” NLT
God sees us in our distress. No matter how far we run or how big of a pity party we have, His hope is that we will search for Him and trust His plan. Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.” God has not abandoned you in your time of need. He’s not left you to fight your battles alone. You may not see it, but going through difficult seasons is often how He builds our faith, course corrects and draws us closer to Him. His desire is that we will search for Him and fully rely on Him. You can trust in Him and in His plan especially when you can’t see the way forward. He is a good God and has a plan you can trust in even when it seems all hope is lost. He sees you in the middle of your storm. You are not forgotten.
One of the things that happens when we’re going through a tough time is that we get tunnel vision as the world seems to close in on us. We tend to hunker down and shut people out. We feel like running away to escape our problems, but know we can’t. If you’re like me, the problems weigh heavy on your mind and make you feel fatigued. It’s a lonely place, and it feels like it’s you versus the world. Many times, it can feel like your prayers are going unheard. You even start to wonder, “Where is God? Doesn’t He care?” Your prayers seem to feel flat and it’s like they aren’t being heard. Going through times like this are tough, especially when you feel like you’re doing what God told you to do.
I’m sure Hagar felt all these things. She was Sarai’s handmaiden and had been given to Abram as a second wife so that God would fulfill His promise to give Abram children. When she got pregnant, Sarai began to hate her and verbally abused her to the point that she did run away taking what they thought was the fulfillment of God’s promise. I love verse 7 of Genesis 16. It says the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring and said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where did you come from and where are you going?” (AMP) He knew the answer, and even called her by name. He blessed her and told her to name her son Ishmael which means “God hears”. “Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are God Who Sees’” (verse 13).
Even in the wilderness and under attack, God spoke to her and proved to her that He hears and sees us in our most desperate times. Matthew 10:29 says that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing. You are worth more to Him than a sparrow, and He knows the very number of hairs on your head. While it may seem, and even feel, that you are all alone and that God doesn’t see you or know what you’re going through, He does. He sent Hagar back to Sarai from that well, and He may leave you in your situation, but it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t care. Being under pressure and in difficult situations often produces a faith in us that we can’t get any other way. It opens our eyes to see that God is there with us in those times guiding us, listening to us and blessing us even when it doesn’t feel like it.
Have you ever felt like God was a million miles away, especially when you needed Him most? I have, and so have others. Even King David felt that way. In Psalm 10:1 he wrote, “Why are you so far away, O Lord? Why do you hide yourself when we are in trouble?” (GNT) I don’t know if it’s because we are so focused on our problem or we expect God to transport us out of the situation that causes us to feel like He’s so far away in those times.
Hagar, the mother of Abraham’s first child, felt that way too. She had been run off by Abraham’s wife because she had gotten pregnant. While she was running from her problems, an angel met her and asked where she was going. She explained how hard things were and that she felt abandoned. The angel told her to name her son Ishmael which means “God hears”. He also told her to go back to the situation she was in. She named the place Beer-Lahai-Roi which means “Well of the God who sees me”.
From that, we know that God hears us and sees us. He’s not a million miles away. There’s often times when He puts us back into situations or doesn’t take us out because He is teaching us and molding us. If we run from hard times, we will miss out on becoming who He was forming us to be. A piece of clay isn’t able to be used until it goes through the fire. Until then, it will easily crumble and the potter has to start over.
Not only did God hear Hagar’s cry for help, He heard David’s. Going back to Psalm 10, David answers his own question in verse 14. It says, “But you do see; you take notice of trouble and suffering and are always ready to help. The helpless commit themselves to you; you have always helped the needy.” If God saw Hagar and David, He sees and hears you. He’s not a million miles from you. He’s right there with you, walking through this right beside you. He is the God who sees you, and He’s working things out for your good even if you can’t see it.
Have you ever felt like God doesn’t see you? Does it feel like He doesn’t see you or even know your name? It sometimes can feel like God has forgotten you when things aren’t going your way. Hagar, Sarai’s maid servant, felt that way. She had been handed over to Abram as a wife by her master with the intent of getting pregnant and giving up her child to Sarai. No one asked her or God if that’s what they wanted, but here she was pregnant with Abram’s seed. She was despised by Sarai and chased off.
She found herself going from a place of security to insecurity. She went from knowing where she was going to sleep and not having to worry about food to being homeless and hungry. She broke down in the desert. She wept and cried out to God. He sent an angel to meet her in the wilderness. He called her by name in Genesis 16:8. He said, “Hagar, where have you come from and where are you going?” (NLT)
The angel of God knew where she was and her name just like He knows your name and where you are. You may be crying in the wilderness because you’ve been done wrong as well, but God sees you. He will meet you in that place and bless you. He will not leave you in the wilderness unprotected and despondent. When you cry out to Him, He will answer because you are not forgotten. You are important to Him and are not hidden from His view.
In verse 13, she calls God by a new name, El-Roi. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” In that moment, the doubts fled. She knew that God saw her broken in the wilderness. If He saw her, then He sees you. Each one of us are important to Him. You don’t have to be living the blessed life for Him to know where you are. You can be a single mom who is homeless and not sure where to go or what to do like Hagar, and God will hear your cry because He sees you. No matter how bad things are, you are not forgotten. God sees you and will meet you in your wilderness.