Listening to the cheerful chirping this week of “my” song sparrow brought to mind a song I had learned in childhood,
God sees the little sparrow fall,
It meets His tender view;
If God so loves the little birds,
I know He loves me too.[i]
In Luke 12:6-7, Jesus reassured His disciples with these words, “What is the price of five sparrows – two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” These coins were worth about half-an-hour’s work for a labourer back then. Of all God’s creation, mankind is most precious to God.
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God…” the writer of Hebrews says.[ii] He is “El Roi”, the “God who sees”. In Genesis 16 we find the complex story of a barren woman, Sarai, who despite knowing God’s promise of a son could wait no longer. She took matters into her own hands and gave her maidservant, Hagar, to her husband so she might bear a son thus providing an heir for Sarai. When Hagar became pregnant, she taunted Sarai relentlessly and, in turn, Sarai mistreated her servant. Hagar fled into the desert where the angel of the Lord found her. He confirmed she was carrying a son whom she was to call “Ishmael” meaning “God hears”. Indeed He had heard Hagar’s misery. “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.’”[iii]
Scripture places great emphasis on this very personal aspect of God’s nature. In the Old Testament He saw…the depravity of man in the days of Noah…the cruel treatment of the Israelites in Egypt…Judah’s unfaithfulness to God…the proud who needed to be brought to their knees…those whose hearts are fully committed to God…the temple being rebuilt.[iv]
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ extended His divine nature through tangible contact with everyone He met. He saw …the faith of the paralyzed man’s friends…Levi, a tax collector, and called him to be His disciple…the widow whose son had died and comforted her with “Don’t cry”… …a crippled woman and said “You are set free from your infirmity” …ten lepers whom He healed…Zaccheus in a tree…a poor widow offering all she had …the crowds and began to teach them…the large crowds on which He had compassion and healed their sick …the little children whom He held and blessed …Mary weeping after the death of Lazarus…His mother at the foot of His cross.[v]
He even “saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”[vi] As Job testified, God sees everything I do and every step I take.[vii]
During this past couple weeks I’m so grateful I know El Roi personally. He sees my friend as she grieves the loss of her pet cat of seventeen years…my daughter-in-law as she visits relatives a few hours away…my son as he received his engineering iron ring…my parents as they move forward together following a difficult decision…another friend as she awaits cancer surgery…my neighbours as they travelled to Florida for March break…a grieving community as they mourn five lost fishermen…a couple from our church hovering anxiously over their little son in the hospital…God sees and cares deeply for each and every situation in which we find ourselves. How comforting it is to know this truth!!
He sees my pain when no one else can or when I try to hide it from them. He knows all that lies before me and sees what way I should go. He sees why I am going through my current challenge and how frustrating it is for me. He sees dangers in my way and sends angels to protect me. He sees when I need encouragement from a specific Bible verse or lyrics of a song.
Thank-you my El Roi !
Until next Sunday,
[i] Maria Straub, Solomon W. Straub, http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/g/o/godseest.htm
[ii] Hebrews 4:13
[iii] Genesis 16:13
[iv] Genesis 6:5; Exodus 3:9; Jeremiah 16:17; I Samuel 22:28; I Chronicles 16:9; Zechariah 4:10
[v] Luke 5:20, 27; 6:13; 13:12; 17:14; 19:5; 21:2; Matthew 5:1; Mark 6:34; 10:16; John 11:33; 19:26
[vi] Psalm 119:16
[vii] Job 31:4