13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing, for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:13
Originally written January 17, 2021
Update, January 17, 2022: In the year since we buried her husband, this woman I wrote about in this post has remained a vital part of our church family. One of the ways she redeemed her grief was to sell a vacation property she couldn’t bear to use without him, and then gift part of the money to one of our missions partners.
Her generosity with her late husband’s estate has allowed us to set up a legacy fund which will one day fund the seminary educations of young men and women God calls into ministry from our church. She is one of my favorite people to pray with on Wednesday nights. She still seeks after the God who Sees, and I am so blessed to be her pastor.
Another week, another Covid widow. But also another day in which God demonstrates His kindness to me through this reading plan.
Yesterday, I spent an hour on the phone with a woman from our church whose husband was diagnosed with Covid on Christmas Day. He’s been on a ventilator since December 30. Through tears she tells me that she’s made the decision to discontinue life support for her precious soulmate, in accordance with his living will. And through tears I listened, because this godly woman was needing reassurance that she was making the right decision and that her decision wasn’t from lack of faith.
When I asked her if she wanted me with her when they disconnected the ventilator, the tears came again, and she said, “Pastor, I can’t go to the hospital. The morning the ambulance came for my husband, he had been normal, joking, kind, and “there.” But he has been unresponsive ever since. I want my last memory of him to be how he was then, and not how he is now.” And for the second or third time in the conversation, she asked the same pleading question: “Is that wrong?”
Here’s where our daily reading in God’s word has been such a lifeline. Today, we read about Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant, calling God “El-Roi:” the God Who Sees, saying “Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me” (Gen. 16:13). In tomorrow’s reading, we will see that Hagar had the same heart cry as this woman from our church. When Hagar and Ishmael were cast out of Abraham’s house and she thought they would die in the desert, she cried out to the God Who Sees: “Let me not look on the death of the child” (Gen. 21:16)
By the way, because so many of you who are reading this are women, don’t miss the fact that the only person who is allowed to name God is a woman. And not even a Jewish woman–an Egyptian slave. All the other names of God were either given by God or were altars to God that became accepted as names of God. But Hagar–Egyptian, slave, outcast, single mother–this woman dares to give a name to God. And God accepts her naming.
And the God Who Sees becomes the God who Hears. He hears the sound of her weeping, and He says, “Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is” (Gen. 21:17).
I have wept with too many widows over these past few months. I’m weary and overwhelmed. I’m worried about my own mother, who was taken to the hospital with Covid on Friday. But the God who sees, still sees.
The God who hears, still hears.
And through His Word, we can say with Hagar, “Truly I have seen Him who looks after me.”