This name was given to God by a woman named Hagar. Let's look into the story that brought about a miraculous experience with God. We find Hagar's story in the Bible in the book of Genesis, chapter 16. Hagar was Sarah's Egyptian maidservant. God had promised that Abraham and Sarah, who were very old, would have a child, but Sarah became impatient, so she decided to solve her problem herself. She gave her maidservant, Hagar, to her husband Abraham so that a child would be produced through Hagar. This child would be known as Sarah's child. This was a legal custom of the society at that time although it was not God's custom. As always happens when God's children go against His will, their plans turned to trouble.
As Hagar's pregnancy became evident, she began to despise her mistress and Sarah, in turn despised her. Sarah started to mistreat Hagar, so much so that Hagar ran away into the desert. She was alone and far away from her homeland. She was on her way back to Egypt when she stopped to rest at a spring. She was not one of God's chosen people, however God chose to show Himself to her. The bible says that the angel of the Lord found her in the desert. The angel of the Lord is thought to have been the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. God Himself found Hagar and told her to return to Abraham and Sarah and to submit to them. He then gave her a promise - that she would have a son whose name would be Ishmael because the Lord heard of her misery. The Lord went on to tell her that a great nation would come from her son and in fact, Ishmael became the father of the Arab nation.
She called God, El-Roi, meaning "he One who sees or looks after me." I'm sure that she must have felt like a very insignificant person who was not important to anyone as she ran into the desert. There are no insignificant people to God. The Lord proved to Hagar that He sees everyone. He sees our misery and He cares.
Sarah should have known this. The Lord saw her misery at being childless and had promised her a child. Later, after the birth of Ishmael, Sarah gave birth to her own son, Isaac, whose offspring became the nation of Israel.
Have you ever run away from trouble, feeling very much alone? I have. In my darkest moments when I can't turn to anyone else and I'm alone, my God sees me and hears me. He cares for me. My God sees me where I am hiding. He sees the pain and the suffering that no one else sees. He is the One Who sees and cares for me. He is El-Roi.
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