I’ve always loved the story of Hagar. I simply thrill at her proclamation of “the God who sees me.” I scoop that name up and tuck it into my heart, and I pull it out when I feel alone, lonely, and unseen: El Roi.
I’m sure you all know the story. Sarai’s inability to conceive had prompted her to give her servant girl Hagar to her husband Abram, hoping to have children that way. When Hagar became pregnant, her prideful attitude embittered her mistress Sarai, who in turn treated Hagar so harshly that she ran away. When we meet Hagar in Genesis 16, she was probably heading back to her native Egypt.
Until recently, my main take-away from this story had always been Hagar’s name for God. But there’s something else going on in this passage too, something I’d never noticed before. In verse 8 the Angel of the Lord asks Hagar, “Where have you come from, and where are you going?” God is basically asking her, “What’s your story?”
I believe this question can unlock something inside our souls. When was the last time someone asked us both “Where have you come from?” and “Where are you going?” When was the last time we asked it of ourselves? Or deeper still, when was the last time we realized that God was asking it of us?
Do we know God wants us to tell Him our stories? To tell Him all the regrets, failures, and mistakes we’ve made, and all the hurts and wounds we’ve received at the hands of others? After all, Hagar’s story held both her own wrongdoing and the wrongs of others: Sarai’s unkindness and her own contemptuousness.
Do we believe God wants to heal all of it? That He wants to pour oil and wine on our wounds, bind us up, and make us whole? That He wants to pour His blood over our trespasses, cover us with His righteousness, and call us His own?
And do we believe that God cares not only about our pasts, but about our futures? That He wants us to tell Him about our dreams, desires, and apprehensions? Do we believe He sees those too, and will walk into them with us? Do we really believe that He sees us, and that He cares? That He knows where we came from and where we’re going?
In John 8, Jesus says something surprisingly similar: “I know where I came from and where I am going.” Jesus knew His past, and He knew His future – and He didn’t care what those in power thought of Him. Our Savior marched single-mindedly through life, determined to arrive at the Cross, all because He knew His own story. He could do everything the Father asked Him to do because He knew where He came from and where He was going.
John 13:3 says it another way: “He knew that He had come from God and would return to God.” Jesus knew His origin, and He knew His destination. It’s what enabled Him to do what He did on earth. He could climb up a skull-shaped hill with a scandalous tree upon His back, only to be separated from His Father, all because He knew in the end, He would return to His Father.
This unwavering confidence of Christ is ours for the taking. If we know where we came from and where we’re going, we can pass through the waters and walk through the fire. Like Jesus, we can weather adversity and withstand disappointment, if only we know these two things.
So may we know God sees us, in the deep places where no one else sees. May we know we both begin and end in Him. May we, like Hagar, hear God when He asks us where we’ve come from and where we’re going. And may we, like Jesus, be confident of our answer.
How easy is it for you to believe God cares not only about our pasts, but about our futures? That He wants us to tell Him about our dreams, desires, and apprehensions?