Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Do you ever feel invisible? I do. In a world where social media can instantly connect us with people all over the world, it’s easy to feel more lonely than ever.
I struggle with anxiety and depression. It’s difficult for people who don’t have these issues to truly understand just how isolating these issues can feel.
Even with the best intentions, no one else can truly understand the pain and burden that another person carries. Except maybe for God.
When hurting, it can be difficult to believe at all. And to believe in a God who cares about us as individuals? Well, that can be pretty challenging. It is a leap of faith to choose to believe that we have a God who sees and hears us.
Promises and Mistakes
We hear a lot about Abraham and Sarah, and the promise of Isaac. But I want to talk about someone else who is often forgotten. Hagar. Her story is just as important, maybe more so.
Hagar was a slave. She had no rights. This is unthinkable to us today, but it was acceptable practice at this point in history. Sarah decided to make Hagar bear a son for her and Abraham. I imagine she felt more like property than a person.
Sarah became jealous of Hagar and hated her for carrying Abraham’s child. A situation which she arranged. Sarah treated Hagar very badly, and Abraham allowed it to happen. Finally, in desperation, Hagar ran away. Who could blame her? I can only imagine how she felt.
In the Desert
In the desert, she encountered the God of Abraham in her most desperate hour. He knew very well what had happened, and didn’t want Hagar to die in the desert. He cared what happened to her. So much so that He made her an heir to the same promise he gave Abraham.
For perhaps the first time, Hagar was seen and valued as an individual. Indeed, she was the first person to give God a name. She named him El Roi, which is Hebrew for “the God who sees me”.
The Lord tells her that she will be the mother to a mighty nation, and that her descendants will be as numerous as the grains of sand in the desert. He instructs her to name her son Ishmael, which means, “God hears”.
Hagar encountered the God who saw and heard her.
A Promise Fulfilled
The Lord then instructs her to return back to Abraham and Sarah. Now, I have to be honest…this part was hard for me to swallow. It doesn’t seem fair. God sent her back to that awful situation. Why? Well, so she wouldn’t die in the desert, for one thing. But also to fulfill her destiny.
Hagar discovered her destiny in the desert, but she had to return to see that promise fulfilled. We like to encounter God on the mountaintop, but we get to know Him in the desert. The desert of death and depression. The desert of fear and loneliness.
The God Who Sees and Hears Me
Sometimes we have to stay in an uncomfortable situation (not abuse) for a time so that we can work through it to freedom. Otherwise, we never grow. I have found that God is far more concerned about my freedom than my comfort.
I have lived long enough to understand that God doesn’t magically make everything better. He does, however, use imperfect situations and imperfect people to help us reach our destiny. In God’s economy, we all have value. How amazing it is to be loved by the God who sees and hears me!