“Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”” Genesis 16:13
“When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive. So Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “The LORD has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.”” Genesis 29:31-32 (NLT)*
While these women are significant to the story of Genesis, they are in some ways cast-aside, extraneous characters in the narrative of Genesis. (Even though Jesus comes through the line of Judah, who is Leah’s son, the Old Testament story gives much more attention and prominence to Joseph, Rachel’s son.)
Hagar and Leah both face situations of a forced sexual relationship and subsequent mistreatment. The Bible doesn’t go into detail on how they feel about this; there are different ways to interpret their role in and reactions to their situations. But it is clear that Hagar is abused by her mistress, Sarai, and Leah is unloved by her husband.
I’m not saying they’re perfect or handle everything about their situation in an exemplary way. They are indeed victims, but their behavior is not what is noteworthy here. God’s response to them in their circumstances is what is so significant.
God sees. God sees the exploited, the unloved, the mistreated, the sexually abused, the cast-aside, and abandoned. He communicates to Hagar and Leah here, “I see you. You may be overlooked by everyone around you, but you are seen by the God of the Universe. I will bless you and bring you blessing out of even this situation. I will be faithful and just, even if everyone around you is not.”
Certainly, from my modern vantage point, I have all kinds of additional questions and concerns. God doesn’t exactly resolve the problems of these women’s situations the way that I’d like for him to; they still face difficulties and challenges. But again, that’s not the point. Instead, these stories highlight the gulf between what we would normally expect to see out of a mighty authority figure and who our God is.
We serve a God who sees. God acknowledges those who are overlooked and no one is beneath his notice.
Note: I take and edit almost all my photos myself, but I have to be sure to give photo credit here to the Philosopher 😉 He captured the photo of this beautiful, broken-winged butterfly while we were out taking family photos this fall. All the editing is still mine, though 🙂
Also, check out this post over at the blog Barren to Beautiful for another thought on “being seen.”
*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.