El Roi – The God Who Sees

By on July 4, 2015

By Marta Greenman–

Sometimes life is just not fair. Certain people are treated specially while you may not even be noticed. Someone else may receive an undeserved promotion, while you are stuck in the same job. Children are bullied for no reason and some people are discriminated against because of gender, size, ethnicity, looks, religious beliefs, and etc. At these times like we need to know El Roi, The God Who Sees.

The first time we encounter El Roi, is when Hagar, an Egyptian maid, finds herself fleeing from Sarah, the wife of Abraham. Hagar had been treated harshly after Sarah had told her husband to have a child with Hagar. As Sarah’s handmaid Hagar had no ability to disobey her mistress (queen). Once Sarah discovered Hagar was pregnant, Sarah became angry and bitter and displaced her anger upon Hagar. Sarah had put her maid in an arduous position then punished Hagar when she obeyed. Therefore, Hagar fled from Sarah.

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At this point the angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar in the wilderness and asks her a question, “Hagar, Sarai’s (Sarah’s) maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8). It is here that Hagar pours her heart out to the Lord. I find this interesting because the Lord knew Hagar’s name and circumstances before she ever began to speak, but the Lord wanted Hagar to engage in a conversation with Him. He wanted to hear Hagar’s heart and circumstance.

After Hagar reported about her impossible circumstances, the Lord didn’t say she was exaggerating or even wrong, but He said, “I am the God Who Sees, El Roi”. He told Hagar that even though she was a lowly handmaid, He knew her circumstances. The God of the universe had seen the hardship she had been walking through, and He was looking after her.

What you might find surprising is that even though the Lord saw everything Hagar had endured, He told her “Return to your mistress and submit yourself to her authority” (Genesis 16:9). God was asking Hagar to be obedient to Him and in return He would pour out a future blessing.

The future blessing would give her a great multitude of descendants, so many she would never be able to count them. These descendants would come through the child with whom she was pregnant, and the child would be called Ishmael, which means God hears. The Lord said He was going to do these things, “Because the Lord has given heed to your affliction” (Genesis 16:11b). God was going to take action upon the lowly handmaid’s needs.

Hagar knew the Lord had spoken to her and called the Lord, El Roi, the God Who Sees, and said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” (Genesis 16:13). She was amazed that God would look upon her affliction and bless her greatly.

Often we are Hagar and want to flee from difficult circumstances. We want to believe God would not want us to stay in such harsh conditions, but this is not always the case. If Hagar had not returned she would not have lived out the blessing the Lord had for her. In difficult circumstances we need to learn to draw closer to the Lord, to trust and rely upon Him. We need to understanding that God is a God Who Sees and will comfort us during difficult days. God knows our future and He knows what we need in order to walk through the days ahead. In our trials of adversity we can lose sight of God’s purpose for our lives. But knowing El Roi, we can take comfort from another biblical figure who was well acquainted with grief. Joseph said to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

I choose to trust God who can take my trials and pain to accomplish a better result, a future blessing for others and maybe even myself. Our pain can make us bitter . . . or it can make us better. Which will you choose?


Footnote: Please note God does not tell women in domestic abuse to remain in their circumstance. Spousal abuse is not God’s plan.


Marta Greenman’s life calling is to inspire others to fall in love with God and teach them how to study His Word to bring change in their lives. She is the founder of Words of Grace & Truth, author of two published Bible studies, Bible teacher, conference speaker, and wife to Marshall. You can find Marta’s testimony and studies at wogt.org.

Marta Greenman

About Marta Greenman

Marta Greenman’s life calling is to inspire other’s to fall in love with God and teach them how to study His Word to bring change in their lives. She is the founder of Words of Grace & Truth, author of two published Bible studies, Bible teacher, conference speaker, and wife to Marshall. You can find Marta's testimony and studies at wogt.org.

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El Roi – The God Who Sees