Turn to El Roi, the God who sees
By Linda Bridges for Blog Series: What’s in A Name Anyway?
Celeste wiped her eyes again and tossed the soaked tissue onto the mound beside her. How could I have been so stupid? I thought he loved me! Now, what? Her hand moved involuntarily to her belly and the small life she now carried.
Today Celeste’s lover broke the news that he was returning to his wife. He told her gently enough, but she still felt like yesterday’s leftovers. And now—here I am, she thought. Alone—all alone. What a mess. Where can I hide? God, where are you? Do you see me?
Have you known such a day? To feel so used, rejected—tossed aside?
All of us have felt rejected at one time or other. In such times, I have wondered if it was something I did or said. Maybe if I had done things differently . . . if I had only been more . . . or behaved more . . . The doubts and speculations go on endlessly, don’t they?
We, too, cry out, “Where are you, God? Where is Elohim—the One who created me? Does God see? Does God care?”
The Scriptures say: “The Lord is like a strong tower, where the righteous can go and be safe” (Proverbs 18:10 GNT). Celeste did not yet know that one name of God is El Roi—“The God Who Sees Me.” Maybe you don’t know God by that name either.
God was given that name by an Egyptian slave girl, Hagar, who faced a similar dilemma as Celeste (see Genesis 16). This passage is the only occurrence in the Bible of the specific name El Roi (pronounced El Raw-ee), but the omnipresent, omniscient, and all-loving attributes of God that prompted it are seen throughout the entire book. God’s knowledge and presence includes the past, present, and future all at the same time.
Here is the story to introduce you to El Roi.
Hagar was impregnated by her master. Even knowing that she was pregnant, he failed to protect her. He passively left Hagar in the hands of his wife, who abused her—even though the pregnancy was the wife’s idea in the first place. Finally, full of shame and rejection, Hagar ran away. Alone and desperate in a cruel world, she didn’t know what to do next. But God came personally to this fugitive slave. God’s angel found her and met her immediate need. She experienced God’s presence and her response was to give God a name: “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13 NIV). Her encounter with El Roi—the experience of being seen by God—gave her courage to return to her world, difficult as it was. She was not alone, unseen. In the all-seeing God, Hagar found refuge and life. El Roi had seen her situation, called her by name, and was involved with her and her uncertain future. (Genesis 16:8).
The Bible tells us that El Roi knows our story too—from beginning to end.
Nothing is hidden from God (Psalm 139:1-18). If you are facing a situation that threatens to overwhelm you, remember Hagar’s God—El Roi. God’s name is a safe place!
God knows right where to find you.
“You know when I sit or stand … every moment, you know where I am …” (Psalm 139:2-3, 7-8, Living Bible)
God knows your name.
“… I can never forget you! I have written your name on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16 GNT).
God knows your thoughts, fears, desires—even before you do.
“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry …” (Psalm 34:15a NIV)
God knows every wound of your heart—from childhood to this very moment, El Roi is aware of your secret struggles and sorrows.
“I call to the Lord for help … When I am ready to give up, he knows what I should do.… (Psalm 142:1a, 3a GNT)
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NIV)
God is the One who knows your future—your destiny. Since God already knows your needs, you can rely on God’s promises:
“Before they call I will answer, while they are still speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24 NIV)
“ I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (Psalm 32:8 NIV).
Want to learn more about the background of Hagar’s story?
Read more about the background of Old Testament stories. These handpicked articles will help you dig deeper into Hagar’s story. Learn more about Abraham, worldviews in early Israel, and the significance of Egypt in biblical times.
Note: This article was first published by American Bible Society, Engager’s Blog.
Linda Bridges is a career missionary and Bible teacher for more than 35 years, having lived on foreign soil in both Austria and Thailand. Through her ministries she has traveled and taught the Bible in more than 20 countries, most recently in Nepal and Ukraine. She is also an author and children’s storybook illustrator and loves painting, writing poetry and blogging. Please take time to browse other articles written by Linda.