“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.’” Genesis 16:13 (ESV)
I remember the moment as if it were in slow motion. Every syllable of the word made me shrink a little smaller as he called me invisible.
It happened years ago when my husband was in a ministry that traveled to churches to lead worship. We spent a week at a small church in south Georgia. One of the members opened his home for a hamburger dinner after the last service on Wednesday night. We ate and laughed with his family. We listened to him tell vivid stories with a thick Southern accent.
When it was time to go, I stood by my husband as our host offered a boisterous goodbye to the other guests. But when he approached me, he looked confused, as if he’d never met me before.
“Well, you’re just invisible back there, aren’t ya?” he told me.
It wasn’t said with malice. It was just a matter-of-fact statement. After a week at his church and an evening in his home, I was as forgettable as a stranger.
I felt embarrassed, insignificant and so alone that night, surrounded by all those people.
Feeling invisible hurts. If we could sit down together and swap stories, you could probably share a moment when you felt deeply unseen. Every heart longs to be noticed. Simply open up Facebook or Instagram for proof that people everywhere will do just about anything to be seen.
But for most of us, being seen isn’t an empty ploy for attention. It’s a deep and abiding desire to be truly known. In our attempt to fulfill this desire, we desperately turn to the distracted world around us and wonder, Does anybody really see my heart?
The hard truth is that people aren’t always great at seeing each other. Only when something is loud, exciting, shiny or new are we prompted to lift our heads and notice. That means for most of us — the average women — we feel the sting of being overlooked.
Our key verse comes from a woman who must have felt much like I did that day in south Georgia — invisible. Hagar was an Egyptian servant who was pregnant with Abraham’s illegitimate child and was fleeing the harsh words of her mistress, Sarah, in Genesis 16. All alone in her wilderness, she encountered a life-changing truth: There is a God who sees the overlooked.
“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.’” (Genesis 16:13)
This is the first time in Scripture we hear this name: El Roi, the God Who Sees.
The name is sweeter because Hagar spoke it first. It isn’t just that God sees but that God saw her. Hagar’s story shows us that God doesn’t just see and love the key players, the ones from the right storyline and bloodline and family line, the called and set apart, the covenantal children — He sees and loves the overlooked too.
This name, the God Who Sees, doesn’t simply describe what God does; it reveals His character. God is omnipresent, everywhere all at once. He’s also omniscient, knowing everything all the time. So God, by His very nature, cannot overlook us.
When we feel invisible to the world around us, we do not go unnoticed by our Father. We can be sure He sees every heartache, every unspoken word, every sacrifice and every longing. When we lift our eyes to Him, like Hagar, we can declare, “I have seen Him who looks after me.”
El Roi, thank You for seeing and knowing my heart today. Give me confidence in Your love when I feel overlooked by others. In Jesus᾿ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
In her book Overlooked, Whitney Akin guides you into a deeper understanding of El Roi, the God Who Sees, and helps you uncover the transformative power of living each day in the attention of a holy God. Buy your copy today!
Registration for COMPEL Writers Training only opens a few times a year … and it’s open for one day only right now! Join our faith-based community of writers, and gain the tools and insights you need to use your words to impact lives. When you join, you'll also have the opportunity to attend our first members-only event — A Day for Writers: With Lysa TerKeurst. Hosted at Lysa's home, this is one day designed just for you to invest in your dream. Seats are very limited, and we want to reserve one with your name on it! Sign up for COMPEL Writers Training today!
To learn more about Whitney, visit her website or connect with her on Instagram.
Is social media hard on your heart? If so, you’re not alone. Whitney created a free checklist to help you assess your heart posture as you engage on social media today. Sign up to download “12 Questions Every Christian Should Ask Before Using Social Media.”
Want to chat with Whitney? Head over to the “Encouragement for Today Devotions Community” Facebook group and enjoy a video she made just for you — and enter into a fun giveaway! Whitney is excited to connect with you in the comments of her video!
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 139:1-3, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” (ESV)
How does the knowledge that God sees and knows the details of your days change your perspective when you feel invisible?
Try practicing the intentional attention of God by carefully noticing someone in your life today (maybe a co-worker, friend, spouse or child). How can you show them God’s love?
We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2023 by Whitney Akin. All rights reserved.
What We Believe
If your life feels too overwhelming, click here for our care and counseling resources.