"You are the God who sees me."

Bible Reading: Genesis 15; 16; 17

"The angel of the Lord told [Hagar], 'Go back to your mistress and submit to her.... The Lord has heard of your misery....' 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'" (16:9-13).

You saw Abram trying to count the stars in the heavens, "...999, 1000, 1001...," as he pondered how, though childless at 85, his offspring would number the stars, as you promised. Your heart was filled with joy when he believed you, despite the impossible odds, and you "credited it to him as righteousness" (15:6).

You saw Sarai try and try to give Abram the son you had promised. You saw her cry every month when she knew, once again, that she was barren. You watched her take out her shame and frustration on everyone around her. Your frown turned to a smile as you looked into the future and saw how she and her husband would both laugh when you would finally reveal the unique way you planned to fulfill your promise.

You saw Hagar being mistreated, day after day. You watched when she frantically fled from her abuser. You looked with compassion when, alone in the desert, she cried and wondered how she could possibly face another day. You heard her misery and opened her eyes to your love.

"You are the God who sees me." You saw me ponder the truth of your message, and rejoiced with the angels when I fell on my knees and believed. You watched my faith grow as I eagerly studied your truth and soaked in every word. You looked, with sadness, when Satan lured me away from you and deceived me with his lies. You waited patiently for me to repent and turn back to you, so you could reassure me that your forgiveness covered that too. You watched as I drudged through each empty day when I thought that you had abandoned me; you whispered in my ear, "I'm still here" and gave me grace to go on. You saw when my pillow was drenched with tears, and wrapped your arms around me through each long, lonely night. You saw when my dreams were shattered and I thought I'd never smile again.

You have seen every fear, every loss, every tear; you have heard every curse, every prayer. You saw me then; you see me now; you see me through the years. You smile at the plans that you have for me ...plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

When my countenance was fallen and I could look only downward, you reached your hand under my chin and lifted my face to look in your eyes. I saw that your eyes were filled, not with disappointment or anger, but with compassion and mercy.

"I have now seen the One who sees me!" I have seen you pick up the pieces that I dumped at your feet, and build a new dream that is far better than anything I ever imagined. I have seen you take my pain, mold it in your hands, wrap it with your love, and hand it back to me as a precious gift. Only you can "give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair" (Isaiah 61:3 NLT). I have seen you in the sunrise, the clouds, the river, the rainbow ...my husband, my children, my friends. I can't begin to count all the times I have seen you "...999, 1000, 1001...!"