So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me.”
These are the words of Hagar, spoken as a result of the difficult situation she was in as Abram's wife's handmaiden. Because Abram and Sarai did not trust that God would fulfill His promise to make Abram the father of many nations, they took matters into their own hands.
There is an old Jewish tradition which suggests that before they came to live in the Promised Land, Abram and Sarai regarded their childlessness as punishment for not living in the land. But now they were in the land for ten years, and they still had no children. Sarai probably felt it was time to do something. Perhaps she thought along the lines of an old (but unbiblical) proverb, God helps those who help themselves.
So she arranged for her handmaiden, Hagar, to conceive a child by Abram. (NOTE: According to tradition, Hagar would actually sit on the lap of Sarai as Abram inseminated her, to show that the child would legally belong to Sarai, as Hagar was merely a substitute for Sarai. We see this practice plainly spelled out from the similar occasion of using a servant as a surrogate mother in the case of Rachel's giving of Bilhah to Jacob when Rachel was barren. In that context, Genesis 30:3 reads: So she said, Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her.)
In any regard, Abram and Sarai's impatience while waiting on the promise of the Lord made them vulnerable to acting in the flesh. How many of us can identify with that weakness? When we impatiently try to fulfill Gods promises in our own effort, it often accomplishes nothing and may even prolong the time until the promise is fulfilled. In fact, it was 13 years before Hagar would bear Ishmael as Abram's first-borne.
As it is easy to imagine, Hagar became despised by Sarai. Perhaps Abram doted on the boy ... he finally had a son in his old age! Or it is conceivable that Hagar thought herself above Sarai, and displayed some superiority, as well as disdain for her mistress. And it is also easy to perceive that two women in one household, when one is jealous of the other, makes an unpleasant situation for the man of the house. But they all shared in the sinful atmosphere -- Hagar for her arrogance, Sarai for her impetuousness, and Abram for not being the spiritual leader of the house and demanding that they remain obedient to God's promise. It all resulted in conflict and hostility. Which brings us to the present situation in Genesis 16:13....
Hagar has fled the harsh actions of Sarai towards her, and escaped into the wilderness. As she slumps by the spring on the way to Shur, she is visited by the Angel of the Lord, which is the pre-incarnate Jesus, who gives her a Promise of her own. He instructs her to do something very difficult: return to her mistress and submit to her, whereby He would multiply her descendants exceedingly.
We know that He kept His promise. Ishmael would become the father of all the Arabic peoples. And the effects of the sins of Sarai, Abram, and Hagar have reached far beyond what they ever could have imagined. Today's battle between Jews and Arabs can be traced back to Abram's decision to fulfill God's promise in man's wisdom and strength.
While Hagar's child, Ishmael, would not be the child of God's original Promise, this passage in the Bible tells us that God would still bless and sustain them. That should give us all hope. This Scripture tells us that God sees our suffering and desires to touch our life when we suffer. And Hagar knew this was no mere angel who appeared to her. She called Him the-God-Who-Sees, El Roi. What a revelation it must have been to realize that the Great God of the Israelites was aware of her, an Egyptian slave girl, who was a ‘non-factor’ in the eyes of everyone else.
This is a great lesson for all of us. We may feel insignificant; we may see ourselves as inconsequential. But we are fully known. You might be a waitress, or a garbage man, or you might fry burgers at McDonalds. But God sees you, even when others don’t. It means you have significance in His eyes. This should be a point of worship; it was for Hagar.
Because God fully knows all about you, you can find rest in being unknown. His complete awareness of you should encourage you and fill you with hope. You should feel significant, exceptional and worthy of His attention. And because He knows of you and sees you, it should make your life purposeful. You should feel like shouting to the heavens, He sees me!