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“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.”
Genesis 16:13

In the circular way God often leads, I recently found myself back in the wilderness, tracing the path of Hagar. I’ve walked with God since childhood and have heard and read of Hagar’s plight dozens, if not hundreds, of times. Yet, I sensed God asking me to follow Him back to Genesis again.

The familiar story plays: Sarai attempts to control the uncontrollable. Abram languishes in passivity. Hagar, the pawn between them—enslaved, mistreated, and pregnant with Abram’s child—flees into the desert.

Abused. Angry. Alone.

The arid wind of desperation blows, its grit scathing.

It’s there in the desert that the angel of the Lord appears to Hagar making her path, if not easy, at least straight. His instruction clear.

It’s there, at the well now called Beer Lahai Roi, that Hagar makes her famous declaration: “You are the God who sees me.”

And it’s there at the well that I see something I’ve not noticed before…

The rest of Hagar’s declaration: “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Memories pull me back to my own desert, a place I abhor revisiting. It is a well-worn circle of pain. Yet, this day, the God of Hagar woos me back once more, back to my own desperation. Once there, I see, perhaps for the first time in more than fifty years of circling the same path, I see the One who sees me. The One who saw me. The One who, unbeknownst to me at the time, walked with me. The One who went before me.

I see the One who collected every tear I shed.

I see the One who sees me.

Then I know… The gift of the desert, the gift of desperation, is the gift of sight. It is there, when we look, that we see the One who sees us.

And once we’ve seen Him, we are never the same.