When I first read this small section, I loved it! Stories in the Old Testament can be thrilling but often dark, so occasional slivers of joy like this seem especially meaningful and beautiful. I loved it so much because—though far from an Old Testament scholar—I am familiar with how much the Israelites endure through the history it details, so reading about how the exiled Israelites finally return to rebuild the house of the Lord was like sharing in a huge victory with them.
The angel of the Lord also spoke a blessing over Hagar and the child in her womb. In response, she called out to the Lord, essentially naming Him El-roi, meaning You are a God who sees, or literally—You, God, see. 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.’” (16:13-NIV). The well where the encounter took place became a memorial known as “Beer-lahai-roi,” meaning the well of the living One who sees me (16:14). Hagar’s words had been heeded by God. She saw the living Lord and was SEEN by Him.
In the old I Love Lucy show there is an episode where Lucy and Ricky move from the city to the country. At bedtime Lucy finds herself tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep—ironically because it’s too quiet. This reminds me of our current corona virus work-from-home/social distancing; it is now certainly quiet outside. Even though this may not be the way we envisioned slowing life down, nevertheless, I’m finding blessing in the quiet moments.
“Jane” examined me closely and then asked, “What if they only came to rob you and not because of your preaching … does it still count?” Whaaaat? It’s amazing what comes out of people when someone is suffering!
Jane said this to me at our kids’ school in the Central Asian city where we were serving with different Christian agencies. I was still suffering from the injuries I had sustained when we were attacked in our home a year earlier. She was trying to do the reward calculus on my suffering. Was I suffering for Jesus? Or was I just suffering? In her mind, there was a big difference and it seemed important to her to nail down which was which. Kind of appalling, right?
This was not what I had signed up for. I had moved to Central Asia to change the world, not to clean and cook and wash dishes! If I had to be in this hard place I wanted to make a difference, do something significant for a change. I secretly wished I could lead somebody else’s life!
When I was brand new in my faith, I met an older woman named Margaret. Margaret’s face always seemed to be lit up with the love of God. The light of the resurrection, new life, and hope came glowing through her when she entered a room.
In my youthful naiveté, I assumed that since Margaret was such a joyful person, she must surely have a wonderful and easy life. Imagine my surprise when I learned that she was married to a confirmed alcoholic, a difficult man. I began to look more closely at her face and listen more closely to her words and I could see small signs of her suffering from time to time. I heard it in her prayers for her husband. I saw it in her compassion and activism on behalf of others who suffered. She wasn’t hiding her suffering.