When I was seventeen years old, I came to know the Biblical story of Hagar. Through reading her story, I stored up treasure in my heart about who God is. Hagar was commissioned by Sarah to become pregnant by Abraham, a sore and sorry attempt to enact and speed-up God’s plan to make Abraham’s seed numerous and fulfil the promise that the Lord had made. When Hagar did indeed conceive, Sarah became jealous and abusive toward Hagar, and she fled. But she didn’t get too far before she had an encounter with God, an encounter that would convey to her the depth with which God’s eyes peer into the earth. Like Hagar, it’s important for each of us to explore the magnitude with which God sees into us, this world, and our circumstances.
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
I don’t think it is an uncommon thing for us to often feel forgotten, unseen, and invisible to God. Sometimes we buy into the lie that God is unconcerned with our actions, whether they be enacted in the dark or the light. Or perhaps in our despair we think that God’s attention has drifted far away from us, that He has forgotten to look on us. That He’s forgotten to deliver us. That He’s forgotten we exist. I was thinking through the attributes of God when I came to the idea of His omnipresence. God is everywhere all at once, able to pierce through haze and darkness in view of reality. But though we know this to be true, it can be hard to feel that this is true. Thankfully, feelings aren’t facts and we do well to govern ourselves by the Word of God rather than emotions.
Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I live at the eastern horizon
or settle at the western limits,
even there your hand will lead me;
your right hand will hold on to me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”—
even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to you.
Psalm 139: 7-12
This week I found myself asking God if He saw me. I craved to know that He was near but had convinced myself that He was not. I had foolishly believed that if God governs the world with justice, if He truly did see me, perhaps my circumstances would not cause me to toil. If He saw me and if He loved me, surely, I would be spared from troubled waters. And because I was not spared, I falsely deduced that He could not see me. I was hidden from him.
But back to thinking about the attributes of God. He is omnipresent. As the Psalmist asks, where can I go to escape your sight, the resounding answer if that no such place exists. God’s immutable, unchanging character demands that He keeps us in view, that there is nowhere to escape His gaze. He is incapable of not seeing us. So, whether or not I feel it, I know that God sees me.
Where I had once falsely deduced that because God sees me and governs with justice, I must be plucked out of troubles and into a safe place, I now much change my conclusion. Because God governs justly, because He is incapable of turning His eyes from me, now I can confidently rest amid my toil. I can rest because I know He sees it all. He knows the injustices, He knows the charges brought up, He knows the pain. He sees it all, and He is not deafened to my cries. And though I may not feel His presence resting against me, I know that because He sees me, He is there. And I know that this is all to build my faith, all to grow my affection for Him, all to grow me in His likeness.
Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.