Why does God care about us? How do we know that he really does?
Does he see us as individuals, or just feels a general benevolence towards the human race?
Well fortunately God answers these questions and more –in the things that he says, but also in his actions and in the record that we have of them in the Bible.
Here is a shortened version of a passage I read the other day in Genesis – the first book in the Bible.
It’s about an unimportant slave girl, on the fringes of society and of God’s plan for the world – a plan that focuses on someone you probably have heard of – Abraham:
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said… 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress…
Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert;…. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” …
11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:
“You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael, [which means God Hears]
for the Lord has heard of your misery…
13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne…
(You’ll notice I miss out some verses for the sake of brevity, but you can read the whole story in Genesis 16 here.)
We often bypass this small part of the story as we focus on Abraham, and God’s miraculous promise to build the Jewish nation from this one aged man and his barren wife (themselves just ordinary people that God makes extraordinary) Yet I was touched by this passage concerning Hagar, impregnated by her master to provide a son for his barren wife.
God is God. Eternal, powerful, the ultimate king. And yet he takes time to comfort and speak to an angry, mistreated slave girl on the run from her mistress! Notice what this exchange shows us about God:
He is the God who sees
He is the God who hears and acts – the name of Hagar’s son will always be a reminder to her that God heard her misery and acted on her behalf!
He cares about the weak and the marginalized, and is compassionate to the undeserving. Hagar becomes the mother of what grows to be a powerful nation, although she felt abandoned and mistreated, God was at work!
Maybe you feel like no one sees you? Perhaps they only see the smiling protective front that you put up. Or you think that if people knew the real you they would reject you. Maybe you have been rejected or abused and you feel hurt and alone. The wonderful thing is that the same God who speaks to Hagar, is willing to come alongside you and I too, whatever our situation.
He is the God who sees us.
He is the God who hears.
He is the God who speaks to us, acting on our behalf and for his glory.
…Genesis 16 is not the only time God meets with Hagar either – you can read more in Chapter 21