Have you ever felt invisible?
It’s an odd feeling. Being insignificant. Like when you walk into a room full of people and no one turns a head to greet you? Or, when you get up from your chair and not a soul responds to your pending departure?
I can’t help but glance at others to see if they notice. I slip my hands in my pockets. Lift my chin a bit to feel more confident. Awkward butterflies bumble about in my stomach.
Good grief. My response frustrates my supposedly independent self. But I have to admit I care about what other people think. I want to be significant and to matter.
As life’s journey continues, the tension of living in community rises daily. I want to help those around me. I make to a difference. But when insignificance creeps into my soul, it’s unwelcomed partner — invisibility — enters as well. And I feel inadequate.
Any number of reasons can deliver the invisibility cloak: insecurity, loss, failure, injustice. Life’s focus then slips to a self-preserving, self-centered angle. It’s the natural response to invisibility. We want to make sure that we are still in view.
Hagar’s story in the book of Genesis brings hope from the world invisible. Her burden of insignificance overwhelmed, so she fled her home in Abraham’s household. Pregnant, unloved, alone. She wandered in despair. Her prospects of survival in the desert were slim.
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert...”Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:7-8)
God saw her. He called her by name. Her invisibility did not extend to the Sovereign Lord. She was not insignificant to to Him. The divine encounter with Hagar went against all the cultural protocol. Woman. Gentile. Slave. And yet God reached out and exercised great care over this precious soul.
Her racing heart eased. Her clenched jaw relaxed. Her weeping slowed.
God’s encounter with Hagar was personal. He saw her. He knew her situation. His presence through an angel was bold. Secure. Safe.
Significance flooded Hagar’s aching soul. The invisibility cloak dissolved. With confidence rising, Hagar gave the Lord a name, El Roi, which means “the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13).
This extraordinary moment marked the first time that the Lord is named…ever. This rejected, servant woman was the first person in human history to give the Lord a name. Remarkable. Praise God for the preservation of this moment in the Scripture for all to observe.
My discovery of significance in Hagar’s story soothes my own anxious soul.
My shoulders relax. (Breathe.)
My insides stop quivering. (Another breath.)
My darting eyes refocus. (Ahhhh…)
My gaze finds El Roi, the One who Sees me.