“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.’ Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered. And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.”
I love the story of Hagar and Ishmael. The old, childless couple Abraham and his wife Sarah tried to fulfill God’s promise to have many descendants by having a child through a surrogate. They tried to use their servant, Hagar, to complete this foolish task. Understandably, this resulted in much bad blood between Sarah and Hagar. Hagar was mistreated by Sarah and fled for her safety.
While in the desert, an angel visited Hagar and told her that God was very aware of her situation. God would take care of her and her child. In the midst of her suffering, she was introduced to “El Roi,” which means that “God is one who sees.” She then named her son “Ishmael,” which means, “God hears.”
In Hebrew culture, to “see” means that you not only have light enter into the camera of your eye, but that you are aware of what you see, and you care, and you act. The same thing is true of “to hear,” which implies action based on what is heard and understood. Friend, God sees you and your situation and and hears your cries and prayers!
See how this all works together in the story of the Jews being enslaved by the Egyptians in the book of Exodus: “During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”
God sees. God hears. God remembers. God knows. And God acts.