‘The God Who Sees Me’ is an important concept in Christianity. It comes from the book of Genesis in the Old Testament, where Ishmael’s mother Hagar refers to God as El Roi
– this is a Hebrew phrase with the same meaning. It has been adopted as one of the many epithets for God, along with names like Yahweh and Elohim.
El is the Hebrew word for God, which means that it is part of various other names for Him in this language. Ro’iy has several translations – it can mean shepherd, but it can also mean seeing or looking.
Unusually, this name only appears once in the whole Bible, whereas others are recurring throughout. This gives some indication of how much that one instance resonates with people, given how central it is to perceptions of God’s power.
The woman who named him thus was called Hagar, after she became pregnant with Abraham’s first child Ishmael. She was an Egyptian slave who was given to Abraham by his wife Sarai, because the couple had been trying to have children without success.
Abraham was starting to get impatient as he was very old at this time, even though God had promised that he would be the founder of a great nation. Sarai began to mistreat Hagar, who ran away into the desert.
There, an angel of God appeared to her and promised that her bloodline would produce numerous descendants.
Hagar was struck by the angel’s words, because at this point she felt that everyone had deserted her. It was only God who was on her side and saw her properly. She felt comforted that God knew her life – everything that had already happened and would happen in the future.
She declared, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ Although this exact phrase didn’t occur elsewhere in the Bible, the overall meaning of it permeates through the entire book.
There are a number of promises associated with the idea of The God Who Sees Me. These can be found in the scriptures throughout the Bible, so have a look at the following examples from the English Standard Version and work out what they mean for you:
2 Chronicles 16:9
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land.
He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
There are countless other examples where God emphasizes his seeing qualities. The basic premise conveyed in each is that God is always watching, and never goes to sleep.
He looks after everyone who wants to follow Him and has faith in Him, to strengthen them in His love. He sees everything that happens on the earth, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
If you find yourself helpless or lost, you should try to reinforce your commitment in Christ and focus all your attention on Him. You will feel better knowing that He is keeping an eye on you, giving you the confidence you need to battle through your challenges.
How Can We Know That God Keeps His Promise?
Most of the evidence that God watches out for everyone is shown through Jesus. He carries out miracles throughout the Bible, and even just talking to people who are seen as lowly shows that He loves everyone equally.
He never chose an easy life, even though he could have left his mission behind and lived in luxury. He stood up for those that society had discarded: prostitutes, tax collectors, sinners and the disease-ridden.
While He was on earth, He saw everyone, regardless of status, and loved them all as if they were His own family. God tells us that we are all in His family – it doesn’t matter what we do or how badly we fail, as He will love us just the same.
Other Examples Of God Seeing People In The Bible
Although El Roi is only mentioned once in the Bible, there are countless other examples where God sees people who need seeing.
These are usually the people on the outskirts of society whom others ignore. He sees everyone and knows everything about them, even when they feel invisible.
Matthew 8:1-4 – Healing A Leper
Jesus wanted to clear up the misconception people of the day had about lepers, as it was thought that they were unclean.
This meant that if you touched one, you too would become unclean, so lepers were often seen as outcasts and made to live in separate colonies outside the rest of society.
Jesus healed a man suffering from leprosy by touching him, then told him to be examined by a priest so people could see he was now clean. In his most difficult time, Jesus reached out to the man, seeing him when nobody else would.
John 4:1-42 – Conversation With A Samaritan Woman
Jesus was travelling through Samaria on his way back to Galilee. He was exhausted and stopped for a drink at a well in a Samarian town.
A Samaritan woman came along so she could draw water, and Jesus asked her for a drink. The woman was surprised, because everyone at the time knew that Jews did not mix with Samaritans.
Jesus told her that he could bestow on her the gift of living water, but she was sceptical and didn’t believe such a thing was possible, not knowing who he was.
He then proved that he knew all about her life, showing that he sees her in a way that only the Messiah could. The woman returned to her town (without her water jar), and told everyone there about her encounter – many more became believers also.
The Gospels – Healing Blind Men
There are many instances of Jesus healing blind men throughout the Gospels. Some are recountings of the same story, while others are separate events.
There is an added layer to such accounts – by seeing those who can’t see for themselves, Jesus is allowing them to see also. Mark 10:46-52 tells of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who shouted for Jesus’ help as he made his way out of Jericho.
Jesus simply said to Bartimaeus that he was cured because he had faith, and thus he was able to see again. In John 9:1-12, the man in question was born blind.
His disciples thought that either the man or his parents must have done something wrong for him to have been born that way, but Jesus refuted this, saying that the blindness was to demonstrate God’s work.
He rubbed mud on the man’s eyes and made him rinse it off in the Pool of Siloam; he could then see for the first time. Matthew and Luke also contain similar stories, suggesting that restoring sight to the blind was one of Jesus’ favorite miracles to perform.
John 13:1 – Washing His Disciples’ Feet
When the time of the Passover Feast came, Jesus knew that he would soon be reunited with God in Heaven, because Judas was about to betray him.
He had absolute trust in His Father, and wanted to serve His subjects one last time on earth. Placing a towel around himself, He began washing his disciples’ feet so that they could all be completely clean.
Then, He told them to wash one another’s feet in the same way. This shows that He loved them right up until it was His time to go, and he treated them with the utmost respect as if they were equals.
Teaching them sets an example of how they themselves should live, so they can be more like Him. Therefore, He saw how they could improve, and made efforts to help them to do so.
Matthew 1:18-25 – The Immaculate Conception
This passage describes probably the most famous story in the whole Bible – the origins of Jesus himself. Mary and Joseph were a poor couple who weren’t well-connected or high in status.
When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, he wanted to divorce her away from the public eye. However, an angel appeared to him and told him that Mary’s child would be the son of God.
Both Mary and Joseph were confused by the development, because they didn’t understand why God would choose such an unimportant woman to birth His child.
However, God had seen her pure spirit and her righteousness, when everyone else would have not noticed her at all. She became one of the most important people because God saw her.
Jesus’ origins were lowly as well, since he was born to this family in a bare stable, showing that God is not afraid to humble himself for the good of others.
How Does God See Us Today?
You might think that all these stories of miracles and social outcasts are irrelevant today, as Jesus is not on Earth and society is generally more accepting than it was in those days.
However, there are still plenty of times when people can feel invisible, as if nobody is there for them. In these cases, it is good to know that God sees us for who we are, and is there to guide us every step of the way.
The world can be a cruel place even now, even in first-world countries that don’t experience the same problems as less-fortunate regions.
The God Who Sees Me can have different significance to different people. Whatever your circumstances, you can find a way to apply it to your life. Maybe you feel that God has forsaken you amidst a myriad of hardships you’re facing.
However, when you look back afterwards, you can often see the ways in which He was there for you after all.
This might not be how you expected it to happen, but can nevertheless reassure you that, if He saw you then, He will see you now and in the future. God is a rock that is steady and unchangeable, so you can always count on Him.
It helps to keep a daily journal over a long period of time, and keep a note of everything you’re thankful for each day. This could be small things, such as waking up to the sun, or bigger ones like a loved one getting better after an illness.
Return to past entries every so often to remember how God has helped you throughout. You will notice that, even in the most trying times, there are still reasons to be grateful.
It can be so easy to get caught up in your hardships and assume that God has abandoned you. Documenting your experiences shows that He will never give up on you and has a plan worked out just for you.
The way you see yourself, the way others see you and the way God sees you are all different perceptions. You may be too hard on yourself and expect too much, so judge yourself harshly whenever things don’t go to plan.
Other people are likely to be wrapped up in their own lives to pay that much attention to you or realize when you are upset. Also, humans are often preoccupied with appearances, so will likely base their opinions on how you seem from the outside.
We all do it, but God is better than that; He sees your interior, rather than your exterior, as it is the content of your heart that matters.
The thought of God seeing us is comforting, but it can also be intimidating – knowing that God is always watching can make you feel as if you could slip up at any time.
After all, that means He sees all of your bad actions as well as the good things you do, and he even knows the thoughts in your head.
Having this pressure on yourself can help to focus your mind and spur you on to do well, but at the same time, you may feel overwhelmed by it.
The thing to remember is that God is not sitting in judgement of every action you take – He just wants you to be the best you can be and focus on improving yourself.