A study of El Roi, “The God Who Sees Me” {Instagram Series Intro}

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Today, we are introducing a new Bible study series (#BibleforHopeMoms), which will be coming on Instagram over the next few weeks. Join us on our Hope Mommies Instagram!


Dear Momma,

I’ve never met you, and yet I feel like we’re kindred spirits. I’ve been praying for you for months. I’ve been praying for your grieving heart, that God would give me the words you need to hear. I’ve been asking Him to make His presence overwhelmingly known, so that your heart would feel cared for. My greatest desire is that you would feel seen and heard in the midst of your sorrow.

Like you, I’ve experienced the loss of something precious and sacred. I’ve carried four babies beneath my heartbeat and I will only get to be a momma to two of those babies while on this earth. Some days this realization just brings me to my knees.

It’s been four months since the loss of our second baby. There are many days that I know without a doubt that God is healing my brokenness. I experience joy and I find myself hopeful about the future. And then, like a gust of unexpected wind on a seemingly calm day, grief blasts back in and sends me reeling. Anger takes up residence in my heart. The tears fall fresh. I am anchored to a weight of heavy hopelessness.

I find my grief triggered most often by the painful realization that life continues to spin madly on around me. A friend tells me she’s expecting a new baby while meeting for coffee. A baby shower invitation arrives in the mail. A gender reveal is posted to Facebook. While I recognize new life as a miracle and a wonderful gift, there are days that all things baby just serve as a poignant reminder of what I have lost and what I should be celebrating.

Several weeks ago, at the end of a Bible study I was attending, a precious momma announced a new pregnancy and her fears over losing this new baby. I excused myself and made it to the church bathroom just in time to lock myself in a stall and do the ugly cry. In that moment, I felt so incredibly broken. I was angry at God and I felt utterly alone in my grief. As I sat on the bathroom floor with my knees tucked beneath my chin, I cried out to Him in a way I haven’t been able to do since the loss of my baby last fall.

“God, do you see me? Do you see how much I’m hurting? Do you see my babies? Did their little lives have meaning? This hurts God. I hurt God!”

And then, in the midst of the brokenness and surrender, I heard Him.

“Brittany, I see you and I AM holding your babies. I am El Roi, I AM the God who SEES. I see how much you are hurting. I hear your cries. I have not forgotten. I AM near.” 

Have you been here too, Momma? Have you had similar moments, days, or even months where you’ve wondered if anyone sees you in your grief? Have you wondered if God hears your cries and the prayers you’ve prayed, for restored joy and healing?

As I began to prepare for this Bible study, I felt drawn to share about God, El Roi, the God Who Sees. Because the truth is, He does see you. He does hear you. But when you’re journeying through the messiness of sorrow and grief, your clarity of who God is can often become clouded and uncertain.

The story of Hagar in Genesis 16, introduces us to God, El Roi, the God Who Sees. I love this passage because God’s heart for motherhood is revealed through the testimony of a fugitive, slave girl. Hagar’s testimony of how she meets God, serves as a reminder to all of us Mommas, that His eyes never leave us and that His ears are always attentive and listening.

Over the next several weeks we are going to look at how God acts as El Roi, The God Who Sees, through four different Biblical mommas who experienced grief and sorrow. We will look at the lives of Hagar, Hannah, Naomi and Mary and see for ourselves how God was faithful to meet them in their pain and sorrow.

As we study the testimonies of these four Biblical women, my prayer is that you would know in the depths of your heart that you are seen and heard, that you would feel loved and known.

Momma, I would be so honored to have you join me in this study of God as El Roi, the God who sees. Would you join me over the next few weeks as we study together and learn more about God’s character and His heart for us in the midst of grief?

My prayer is that this study would be balm to your soul and healing to your heart.

In hope,

Brittany

** Updated 3-9-16 to include the El Roi series #BibleforHopeMoms devotional posts:

Day One – Introduction

The journey through grief is incredibly personal.  Some days I grieve so deeply over the loss of my babies.  I wonder if anyone sees just how much my heart is hurting.  I chose this study of God as El Roi, the God Who Sees, because I have found such comfort in this core Theological truth.  God sees me.  He sees YOU.  Every one of your steps along this path of sorrow has been walked on holy ground because His eyes have never left you.  God’s heart for you has never changed.  Please join me as we look at the personal stories of fellow mommas, Hagar, Naomi, Hannah and Mary.  My prayer is that through these Biblical testimonies, you too will see how God has acted as El Roi, the God Who Sees, through your personal stories of loss and healing.

Day Two- Hagar 

The first time I fully understood the significance of Hagar’s story, I was in awe.  Genesis 16 shares the testimony of a lowly, Egyptian slave girl whose purpose is to serve Abram’s wife Sarai.  Out of impatience to conceive, Sarai demands that Abram sleep with Hagar.  But Sarai is less than thrilled over Hagar’s pregnancy.  Now viewing her as a threat, Sarai begins to mistreat Hagar.  Out of desperation, Hagar runs and finds herself face to face with God in the middle of the desert.  It is upon this encounter that Hagar names God, El Roi, the God Who Sees Me.  As a slave, this is perhaps the first time in Hagar’s life that she has ever felt truly seen or known.  To be seen and known by the God of the universe is no small matter.

Day Three- Hagar  

After running from Abram and Sarai, Hagar finds herself alone, frightened and pregnant.  Imagine her shock when, in Genesis 16:7, God meets her, a fugitive, slave girl.  God instructs Hagar to return to Sarai but tells her she will be abundantly blessed.  She will give birth to a son named Ishmael, which means, “God hears.”  I am amazed at how cared for Hagar is in this moment.  God spoke truth to her, promising that her grief was both seen and heard.  Have there been moments when you’ve felt unseen in your grief? This same God, El Roi has seen every tear that you’ve cried.  He has heard every silent prayer for restored joy.  He was there the day a part of you slipped into eternity and He is here now.  He is present and faithful.  God sees you and He hears you, momma.

Day Four- Hagar

After God meets Hagar, she gives birth to Ishmael, which means “God hears.”  The meaning of Ishmael’s name plays a significant role throughout the lives of this mother and son.  Later, Sarai demands that Hagar and Ishmael leave home for good. They are sent to the wilderness where they wander, searching for water.  Genesis 21 says that Hagar cried out weeping and again, God heard her. He called to her, “What ails you Hagar?  God has heard the voice of the lad.  I will make Him a great nation.”  In that moment, Hagar’s eyes opened and she saw water.  This water was again, a tangible manifestation of God’s El Roi heart for both Hagar and Ishmael.  As slaves in their culture, the lives of Hagar and Ishmael were insignificant.  But to God, they were valued, loved and deeply known.

Day Five- Hagar

The desire to be seen, heard and known is a gift that God has put inside of each of us.  It is a part of our humanness that we cannot escape.  In the midst of dark grief and sorrow, God sees, hears and knows us best.  There are many days that I return to Hagar’s story to remind myself that my story is not lost on Him.  I have not been forgotten.  The babies I once carried were created by God and He loves them.  The sadness and the heaviness are not mine to carry alone.  He is El Roi, the God Who Sees.  This is true for you too momma.  Just as God assured Hagar that she was seen and heard — you too are seen and heard.  Your heart is fully known and loved by a great God.

Day Six- Hannah

Hannah is a momma that my heart resonates with.  While the cultural specifics of her story are a bit different, I empathize with many of the emotions she grappled with.   1 Samuel says that while she was loved very much by her husband, Hannah’s inability to have children weighed heavily on her.  I don’t know that much has changed thousands of years later.  God has placed an innate desire in our hearts to carry children and raise babies with the men that we love.  Like Hannah, often we are told, “No.”  We are asked to wait.  We experience loss and grief so heavy that some days we feel crippled.  Throughout Hannah’s waiting, God saw her heavy heart.  He heard her prayers.  What are some tangible ways that you’ve felt God act as El Roi, the God Who Sees, along your journey of motherhood?

Day Seven- Hannah                                                                                           

I cannot expect others to suppress their joy simply because I am wading through the trenches of my sorrow.  Somedays I feel as though it’s impossible to escape all things baby.  Perhaps, a friend’s new pregnancy, a gender reveal on Facebook or mistakenly finding myself in the newborn department of Target.  Often I feel as though my heart is being intentionally provoked.  Hannah’s husband had two wives.  Peninnah, his second wife had many children and took satisfaction in provoking Hannah over her bareness. Hannah wept and was unable to eat (1 Sam 2:6). These tears that Hannah cried have also been my tears. Perhaps your tears too.  When tempted to wallow over the insensitivity of life, we can rest in the knowledge of God as El Roi, the God who sees.  No sting of bitterness or provoking goes unseen. When life seems to be spinning madly on without us, El Roi grieves too.

Day Eight- Hannah-

What I love about Hannah’s motherhood journey is that in her anguish and grief, she remained vulnerable.  Hannah leaned into her sorrow and was not ashamed of her sadness or her longing for a child.  She remained hopeful through steadfast prayer and faith, trusting that God had never left her.  1 Samuel says that Hannah’s husband mistook her grieving prayers for drunkenness.  There must have been times that Hannah felt utterly alone.  Even her husband wasn’t able to comprehend the sorrow.  As I have grieved the lives of my babies, I have found that El Roi is the ONLY one who can walk with me unfaltering.  The love and support of friends and family has indeed been a gift, but God is the only one capable of journeying with me in my sorrow, to the depth that my heart needs.

Day Nine- Naomi

Naomi’s grief journey is intense.  A famine in Bethlehem sends her and her family to Moab in search of food.  After their move, Naomi’s husband and both of her sons pass away, leaving her to grieve in a new and unfamiliar land.  Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth return to Bethlehem.  It is upon Naomi’s arrival in Bethlehem that we get a sense for how distraught she is.  “Do not call me ‘Naomi’ (pleasant), call me ‘Mara’ (bitter) for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me.”  After the loss of my first baby, I questioned God’s heart for me.  I bitterly wondered why He would give life just to take it away.  The beauty revealed through the duration of Naomi’s story is that God often acts as El Roi, The God Who Sees, behind the scenes of our life stories.

Day Ten- Naomi

After the loss of her husband and sons, Naomi was convinced that God was bitter towards her.  In Ruth 1:21, Naomi says, “I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty.  The Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me.”  Perhaps, you can relate to Naomi’s feelings of emptiness in grieving the loss of your baby.  There was perhaps, a time when you felt full.  I’m sure many of us understand Naomi’s struggle to feel God’s protection.  We struggle to trust that He is true to His name of El Roi, the God of compassion, who sees and hears.  As Naomi’s story continues, God reveals that He has always been faithful to His word and that bringing Naomi back to Bethlehem was an expression of His care for her and her family.

Day Eleven- Naomi

After returning to Bethlehem Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth meets Boaz.  Boaz is a wealthy man of integrity.  While harvesting grain, Boaz tells Ruth, “The Lord Yahweh repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” Yahweh refers to the covenant keeping God who promised to protect and provide for His people.  The word “wings” is a common figure for God’s protective presence.  Ruth’s encounter with Boaz is a testament to El Roi as a faithful observer and protector over Naomi’s family.  As the story goes, Boaz marries Ruth and becomes the Kinsman-Redeemer for their family.  Naomi’s land is returned to her along with her financial means.  Ruth gives birth to a son, who provides their family a direct lineage to Jesus.

Day Twelve- Naomi

Ruth 4 is perhaps one of the most beautiful scenes of redemption throughout scripture.  A woman says to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel.  And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age.” Then Naomi took the child and rocked him on her chest.  Such redemption after a story of great heartache!  Naomi’s joy is restored and she is once again filled with life! The key in this passage are the words, “Who has not left you.” God’s eyes never left Naomi.  God El Roi, was orchestrating a divine plan to restore the line of her family from the very beginning.  Naomi’s testimony provides us as grieving mommas with hope for a future of redemption and restored joy, whatever our stories may hold.

Day Thirteen- Mary of Nazareth

As I began to prepare this study, I was struck by the extreme highs and lows Mary must have experienced along her motherhood journey.  Luke 2 says that Mary was called out and set apart from all other women.  She had been SEEN by El Roi, chosen to carry the Savior of the World in her womb.  What an honor that must have been knowing the God of the universe had His eyes on her.  And yet, she must have been petrified.  She was given the holy calling of carrying the Messiah but yet she still had the protective, nurturing heart of a mother.  Each of us is given the gift of motherhood with no certainty of how many days our children will have.  Like us, Mary grieved knowing that she had very limited time with her Son.

Day Fourteen- Mary of Nazareth

Raising Jesus as a son could not have been easy.  Mary had to nurture and parent with open hands, knowing that one day she would have to release Him to God the Father.   Twice in scripture Jesus refers to Mary as, “Dear Woman”, when turning water to wine (Jn 2) and again at the cross (Jn 19).  “Dear Woman” in the Greek is not as harsh as it is in the English language.  In calling his mother, “Dear Woman”, Jesus acted as El Roi, the God Who Sees.  He acknowledged her with compassion while also relaying that their relationship had changed in light of the start of His earthly ministry.  I love that Jesus’ heart for his mother remained tender and compassionate, recognizing that she was grieving the loss of her son even while He was still walking this earth.

Day Fifteen- Mary of Nazareth

One of the most beautiful pictures of God as El Roi takes place at the Cross.  In the midst of His crucifixion, Jesus looks down to the crowd gathered beneath him.  He sees his mother Mary standing beside John, the disciple whom He loved.  The agony Mary must have felt in that moment is incomprehensible.  John 19:26 says that Jesus called out to his mother, “‘Dear Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”  In those moments, hovering so close to the shadow of death, Jesus was watching his momma.  He was loving her and protecting her and making sure she would remain cared for long after his death.  What a beautiful picture of God’s heart for women and for us as mommas!

Day Sixteen- Wrap up

As this study on God, El Roi draws to a close, my prayer for you, momma, is that you would feel deeply loved and known.  Through the personal testimonies of fellow Biblical mommas, Hagar, Hannah, Naomi and Mary, I pray that you would find common ground.  Thousands of years have passed since these women walked this earth, but God’s heart for us as women and as mothers remains the same.  In pain and in sorrow, you can walk in hope, trusting that God, El Roi sees every tear.  He knows the anger and bitterness over your loss.  He knows of your anxious heart as you wrestle with the desire to grow your family again.  Every thought has been known and every silent prayer has been heard.  You are seen.  You are known.  You are deeply loved, Momma.

Brittany and her husband, Jeremy live in Colorado with their two children Mackenzie and Levi, their Black Lab puppy Boston and a menagerie of bunnies! They have two Hope Babies, Finley Sky and Asher Simeon. Brittany is passionate about encouraging women to live authentically and abundantly. She is a writer at www.littlemountainmomma.com where she shares openly about her journey through postpartum depression, her experiences of infant loss and their prayers to grow their family again someday.

Brittany and her husband, Jeremy live in Colorado with their two children Mackenzie and Levi, their Black Lab puppy Boston and a menagerie of bunnies! They have two Hope Babies, Finley Sky and Asher Simeon. Brittany is passionate about encouraging women to live authentically and abundantly. She is a writer at www.littlemountainmomma.com where she shares openly about her journey through postpartum depression, her experiences of infant loss and their prayers to grow their family again someday. {photo credit: Pix-Elated Photography}


1 Reply to "A study of El Roi, "The God Who Sees Me" {Instagram Series Intro}"

  • Leah Everson
    February 7, 2016 (9:15 pm)
    Reply

    Beautiful, Brittany. Thank you for sharing how God has seen you and encouraging me that he sees me here and now. I’m grateful for you and the work God is doing in your life.


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