In his book The God I Don’t Understand, Christopher Wright observes that an unlikely person is one of the first to give God a name. It’s Hagar!
Hagar’s story provides a disturbingly honest look at human history. It’s been years since God told Abram and Sarai they would have a son, and Sarai has only grown older and more impatient. In order to “help” God, she resorts to a custom of the day. She gives her slave, Hagar, to her husband, and Hagar becomes pregnant.
Predictably, dissension arises. Sarai mistreats Hagar, who runs away. Alone in the desert, she meets the angel of the Lord, who makes a promise strikingly similar to one God had made earlier—to Abram (see Gen. 15:5). “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count” (16:10). The angel names Hagar’s son Ishmael, which means “God hears” (v. 11). In response, this slave from a culture with multiple gods that could neither see nor hear gives God the name “You are the God who sees me” (v. 13).
“The God who sees us” is the God of impatient heroes and powerless runaways. He’s the God of the wealthy and well-connected as well as the destitute and lonely. He hears and sees and cares, achingly and deeply, for each of us.
Lord, You didn’t sugarcoat the story of Your people in the Bible and yet You loved them—as You love us—in spite of all the dirt and drama. You are the God who sees us, and yet we can still run to You.
Read about some of the names that Jesus is given. See The Amazing Names of the Messiah.
God sees us with eyes of compassion.