Names are important. One of the first tasks of parenting is selecting a name for your child. I remember the decision to name my son, Walker. I wanted to name him for my dad, whose name was Charles, but I didn’t want to also give him the name Leander. (my middle name; as in… Charles Leander Martin III) We landed on Charles Walker. Charles, for my dad. Walker, because our desire is that he “walk” with God. As in Micah 6:8:
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
Throughout the Bible, we see new names introduced for God that describe various aspects of his nature. For example, King David referred to God as his shepherd (Jehovah Raah) in the Twenty third Psalm. One of my favorite stories behind one of the names for God in the old Testament (El Roi) comes from Genesis 16 and is a name given to God by the Egyptian slave of Sarai, the wife of Abraham. As a result of the jealousy between Hagar and Saria over Hagar’s pregnancy, Sarai mistreated Hagar. Hagar fled into the wilderness intending to never return. God appeared to her in the wilderness and in response, she gives him the name El Roi, “the God who sees.”
Abram takes a hands off approach to the conflict, as we pick up the story in Genesis 16.6
“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; [many Bible scholars believe this was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ] it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” 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.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.” (Genesis 6:6-13)
I have reflected on this passage this past week. Especially in light of the protests and unrest throughout America. The truth is, I have been guilty at times of not wanting to “see” the pain and suffering of others. In this story, God “saw” the mistreatment that Hagar suffered at the hands of her mistress, Sarai. He was not indifferent to Hagar’s plight. Seeing means awareness. Seeing means that we acknowledge something exists. Seeing brings responsibility.
I cannot turn away from seeing the officers’ knee on the neck of George Floyd. As a white man who has not personally experienced the racial prejudice of my black brothers, it is easy to “not see”. Yet God calls us to see as he sees. To see racism and mistreatment. To not only see, but to feel. We are called to “mourn with those who mourn.” Seeing opens us up to feeling, identifying with, and mourning with.
Bob Pierce, who founded World Vision and later Samaritan’s Purse, is well known for a prayer that he wrote on the fly leaf of his Bible. “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” As a result of praying this simple prayer, God began to stir him to see and become involved in the plight of orphans. I challenge each of us to pray this same prayer and by so doing, God may open our eyes to needs and injustices he would have us address. Praying that each of us would not turn a blind eye, but would see and feel, and act. That we will be the arms and feet of Jesus. To do so, we must first have the eyes to see.
Yours In Christ,
Lead Pastor, Frisco First Baptist Church