by Annmarie Worthington
Today I want to talk about another Hebrew name used for God—El Roi. We meet Him in Genesis 16 through the story of Hagar.
Hagar was the Egyptian maidservant of Sarai (Abram’s wife). This is before they became Abraham and Sarah. Sarai, frustrated with her inability to conceive, gave her maidservant to Abram as a second wife in the hope he could conceive through her.
Hagar did conceive. It must have been hard to be Hagar. Here you’re given to a man without much say in the matter. Now your pregnant. It is obvious Abram has no love for Hagar because he doesn’t seem to come to her aid in any tangible way later in the story.
Next Hagar begins to resent Sarai and Sarai begins to resent Hagar. Isn’t that just like human beings? We fight. We resent others. We’re jealous of our fellow beings. Sarai gives Abram an earful. What was Abram’s response?
“Thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee.” vs. 6
I already felt bad for Hagar. Now I feel worse. Really, Abram. “Thy maid”? You’re the one who married her and got her pregnant. Do you feel no responsibility toward her? She’s not just Sarai’s maid, she’s your wife.
As in many situations of jealousy, people are dealt with harshly. That is what happened to Hagar. In fact, Sarai treated Hagar so badly that she ran away. It must have taken a lot for her to run away. Think about it. A pregnant Egyptian servant running away. No money. No relations. Nowhere to go. There must have been serious provocation to get her to run away from her food and shelter.
While she was by a well, the angel of Jehovah approached her and asked her what she was doing. She admits running away from Sarai. Here He gives her a difficult command.
“Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.” vs. 9
He then promised to bless her seed exceedingly. She honored him and called him El Roi, the God who sees.
If you’ve ever been used for someone’s pleasure and then tossed aside, maybe you can relate to Hagar. Or maybe you’ve been mistreated in another way and wonder where the justice is. Few people will get through this life without being wronged by someone. I want to offer some help and comfort to you in those situations.
Hagar is right. Our God sees. He knows everything that has happened to you. His heart is full of compassion. The pain you feel; He feels. Just as the Savior wept at the graveside of His friend Lazarus, He weeps for your pain as well. He loves you.
Maybe you feel like He can’t love you because He let the person who harmed you get away with it. Believe me, they are not getting away with anything. They may have lied to the authorities and gotten away with it. They may have lied to the Bishop and gotten away with it. They cannot lie to God and get away with it. Psalm 139:7-12 shows that there is no place to hide from the eyes of God. He sees EVERYTHING.
One day we will all face the judgment seat of God. Even those who’ve harmed you. There they will not be able to “spin” their way out of just recompense, because God judges with a righteous judgment. He can truly do that because He has seen everything.
You may wonder why He doesn’t just go ahead and punish them right now. Why does He wait until eternity for complete justice to be meted out? Because, my beloved brothers and sisters, they are His children too. Maybe His punishment is delayed because He is working on their hearts. Maybe He wants to give them as much time as possible to repent. Think of how grateful you are for the forbearance of God on your behalf. Think of the times He’s given you opportunities to repent. Let’s offer that same compassion and grace to those that have harmed us.
Oh wouldn’t it be so much better to be able to join hands in eternity with those who’ve harmed us because they repented, then just to see them punished? Can you see how glorious that would be? How much praise and glory that would bring to the atonement!
But, what do we do in the meantime, when people are clinging to their sins and calling it righteous?
Hebrews 12:15 warns us, “Looking diligently…..lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you.”
I know there are wicked people out there. I know people do many unrighteous deeds and hide them. But, be careful about becoming bitter. It only allows the perpetrators to harm you more. A couple of years ago I was struggling with someone who was bringing me harm. For about a year or so, I tried to work out a way to maintain friendship, but it became increasingly difficult. One final act of unrighteousness pushed me over the edge and I decided this person could not be trusted and I’m safer away from the perpetrator.
I was devastated. The breach of trust was almost more than my worn out heart could bear. I cried out to God. I pleaded with Him to help me understand why. Shortly after that, my friend began having severe trials of their own. You’d think it would be tempting to think, Well, that’s what you get. But, that is not what my heart felt. Instead I felt sad. I don’t want vengeance. I want righteousness.
I noticed a change in my heart after that. Yes, I’m still devastated. Yes, I’m not sure I will ever completely trust someone again. Yes, my life has been 20 times harder as a result. But, I will not be bitter. Instead of just praying for God to deal with the person, I began praying for God to lead the person. To help them develop an honest heart. That has healed my heart more than I think any punishment could. Compassion is a healer all its own.
I want you to trust in El Roi. Trust in the God who sees all. Trust that He is dealing with it. Protect your heart from bitterness.
Let me share one more thing and then I promise I will shut up. Everything that God allows to happen to you, (and I do mean everything) is for your good. One of my favorite passages in Romans says this very well.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:28-29
Each time I have had a trial and asked the question, “How can this make me more like His Son?” I’ve gotten wonderful answers from the Spirit. Even the trial I had over the last two years that I mentioned earlier, has produced wonderful fruit in my life. But, all the trial can do is plant the seed. It is up to us to make sure it does not develop a bitter root. It is up to us to make sure it produces beautiful fruit.