Focus Scripture: Genesis 16:6b-13
I came home tired and wanted nothing so much as to put my feet up. But the pets had other ideas. The dogs fussed at my feet. One jumped up and insisted I pay attention to him. The other one lay at my feet, right in front of me and flipped over on her back so I could rub her belly, frantically waiving her paws. "See me," she was saying, "pet me!" After I waded through the chaos, I plopped on the couch and both dogs promptly jumped up and curl up next to me, continuing to claim attention. "See me," their actions were saying. Meanwhile, back a discrete distance so as to not attract too much attention, or seem too eager, the cat curved back and forth against a corner, tail high in the air, and came out with the periodic "meow," as if to say, "I'm here too, not that I need you to notice, but should you want to notice, I'm right here. So hear me. Because, I am, you know, here, at this corner. Going round the corner, again."
And should I fail to take notice of any of this group, they will all become more determined and more vocal. The dogs will eventually dance and bark or "talk" to the point that you just cannot ignore them (or at least I can't) and of course, that is how they insure they get fed each night. And the cat too will become more and more determined in his attention-getting techniques, until he finally just jumps on me (or more likely my husband) and forces his head under the hand he wants to pet him.
Sometimes people do this too--demand attention, put ourselves right in someone else's way to ensure that they have to deal with us. But just as often, maybe more often, we do what Haggar did. We leave. We withdraw. When things are not going our way and life has given us a raw or unfair deal, our tendency can be to run away, to flee the conflict, and to avoid the situation. We hide from other people. We hide, often, from conflict. We may even try to hide from God. But what a blessing that God nevertheless heard Haggar in her distress. Without Haggar having to seek God out, God saw what Haggar was going through, saw who Haggar was, the child she was carrying, and made promises to her. God promised Haggar blessings. God promised that her child, Ishmael, which means "God sees," would become a great nation. And Haggar had the audacity to be the first person to name God. She named God "El Roi" meaning "God who sees" because God saw her, even her, a slave girl given to Abram to use so Abram could have a child when Sarai could not give him one. God saw her when Sarai treated her badly. God saw her in her distress and reached out to her, bringing her comfort. Haggar who did not demand attention was seen and heard by God, a God who hears and a God who sees.
You see me. As I am, with all my flaws, with all my troubles, with all my cares, and with all my desires.
You hear me. You hear my complaints and my celebrations. You hear my hopes and my dreams.
It is a blessing to know that you are the God who sees and the God who hears. Help me be the person who hears your guidance and who sees your paths. Help me be the one who sees others as you do and who hears their stories and their needs. All this I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.