The God Who Sees
By Janna Laugherty
After a year and half of living in the Arabian Peninsula, I have had my fair share of desert sandstorms. The air becomes hot, humid, and so heavy with dust that I now have a deep appreciation and understanding for the way God designed the eyelashes of camels, which allow them to see through the storm.
In a severe dust storm, the air is so thick the whole world seems to take on an amber glow. Other than the dirt (literally, it’s everywhere), the biggest problem is that it’s almost impossible to see. At best, visibility is a few miles, while at worst, just a few feet. Thankfully in the darkest storm, whether it involves sand and dust or not, our God can always see through it. We see this so clearly in the life of Hagar beginning in Genesis 16.
Hagar, a girl from Egypt, became Sarah’s servant. We know from Scripture that Sarah’s husband, Abraham, had accumulated much wealth over the years, therefore being a servant in his household came with honor. We also know that God had promised Abraham and Sarah a son…a son that seemed like a major impossibility to Sarah. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah gives Hagar to Abraham, not just as a concubine, but as a wife. This could only add greater honor to Hagar’s situation. Hagar becomes pregnant and finds herself in the cruel hands of Sarah. We don’t know if she was abused physically, emotionally, or both, but Scripture leaves no doubt about Sarah’s harshness. Hagar runs to find solace in the desert—and the amazing thing is that Yahweh meets her there in her trouble, in her fear, and in the uncertainty of her living situation. Amid her hurt and confusion, Yahweh finds her — He sees her. He gives her hope, tenderly cares for her, and gives her a way to go back to her home and she declares, “You are a God of seeing!” (Genesis 16:13, emphasis added).
Many years later, Hagar finds herself running back to the desert along with the son Ishmael, who was given to her. She runs to the desert again to find protection for Ishmael who has been blessed by Yahweh. As her Ishmael’s water runs out, he begins to slowly die. She moves away from him in order to cry out to this God such a desolate place. She believes that her greatest need is water, which He provides, but He meets her greatest spiritual need — open eyes to Himself.
I often pity Hagar, yet it is so misplaced. Hagar and I have the same greatest need: open eyes to see Yahweh. I, like Hagar, have had my eyes opened to His love in the desert. As I’ve transitioned to a new country, a new culture, new jobs, a new church and church family with new ministries, I have had so many moments of uncertainty, doubt, and fear. And, also like Hagar, I’ve found solace in a pretty desolate place. Why? Because our God is a seeing God. He sees my need and His delight is in opening my eyes — even in the midst of really hard things. He always gives grace in the desert.
Long ago, He promised Hagar that she and Ishmael would have life. He opened her eyes to His grace and to the well beside her, meeting both her spiritual and physical need. He fulfilled the promise and carried them through to abundant life. God sees where you are and He will meet you there — no matter if it’s a desert of sand or if it’s a desert of uncertainty. Rest assured, sweet sister, God is a God who sees. His visibility range (like the camel’s!) is much longer than ours and He offers us hope in the desert; He promises to meet our greatest need: more of Him.
Janna is the daughter of Fred and Marla Laugherty and is currently living in Abu Dhabi, teaching kindergarten art. Although the summer heat and occasional dust storms are not her favorite, she enjoys living near the water and eating water melon wedges at the beach. She attends and serves in an international church, serving in the music and youth ministries. After living in a giant sandbox, she has a new appreciation for the cornfields of Illinois and will always call it home.
*** This was originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of By The Way.