Take Genesis 16:13-15. I’m sure this little paragraph has always been right there in my Bible, but I’ve evidently never paid attention. It’s part of the Abraham story where Sarah’s scheme to have a child through her servant Hagar crashes and burns because of her jealousy and maybe a little arrogance from Hagar. Sarah mistreats her, and Hagar runs away into the desert. But an angel comes to her and tells her to return home, have her son and trust God to give her many descendants. Here’s the part that I had missed--
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?” So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. (Genesis 16:13-15)
Hagar had come to God in a whole new way… and by a whole new name. God became for her “The God Who Sees Me.” Because of her desert experience, God had become more real to Hagar. She named her son Ishmael, which means “God hears.” Because of God’s protection over her during a time of struggle and rejection, God became for Hagar the God who sees and hears.
Is that not what happens in our lives during our times of struggle? If we open ourselves to the presence of God, he can become more real (more present?) to us and we can be brought closer to him. God was working in Hagar’s life in ways that she could never have known. And He is working in our lives as well. Like Hagar, we need to open ourselves to the God who hears and sees.