She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. Genesis 16: 13 – 14
El Roi – the God who sees me – was the name given by Hagar after she was cast out of the home of Abraham. God had promised Abraham a son in his old age, and when Sarai – who later became Sarah – couldn’t give him children she told Abraham to sleep with Hagar to build a family through her. However, after Hagar fell pregnant with Ishmael Sarai mistreated Hagar who then fled into the wilderness. Exhausted and lonely with no one to turn to and no one who would even take notice of a runaway slave girl, God saw her. God sees what we don’t see. He sees our pain and suffering as he did when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. Exodus 3: 7
God sees into our hearts. Man looks at the outward but God looks at the heart. God sees those who are lonely and have no one to turn to. He sees the outcast who no one wants to accept. The leper that Jesus reached out to and embraced while society fled from him. The criminal on trial who longs for forgiveness. It is a great comfort to the downtrodden who God sees and longs to draw to himself to fill with the riches of his glory. Hagar too was promised descendants too numerous to count. God had heard her misery. He truly is a God who sees and comforts us in our distress. “Come to me all you who burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest for your souls,” said Jesus.
Let us beware, though, for El Roi also sees what we do in private, hidden from men. Nothing is hidden from him and even sees the motives and intentions of our hearts. Do we have private sins that no one knows of? Beware then, for El Roi sees it all. Nothing escapes his notice. Turn from them before he exposes them and we are more than humbled before God and man – we are humiliated as he was when he hung on the tree for those very sins.
El Roi is, therefore, a God of comfort for those in need, yet a God whose piercing gaze cannot be escaped by the unrepentant. Come to him either for comfort or for repentance, but come to him. He is the Father longing to embrace his prodigals who he, El Roi, is looking out for with longingness.