The God Who Sees
Shortly after I took a position as Children’s Ministry Director at a small Baptist church, I sat down with the kids under my care and asked them what questions they would like to ask God. One girl, one of the oldest in the class who had grown up in churches and private Christian schools, told me that she would ask God why he hates girls. I asked her why she thought that and she replied that since there were no women in the Bible and since Jesus only choose male disciples that God must hate girls. To a fifth grader at least that’s the way things appeared.
I was shocked to hear her assumption. Here was a girl immersed in the church who had never been exposed to the stories of the women of the Bible. She had never been told of the mothers of the faith or the women leaders in the early church. The stories of women faithfully choosing to serve and follow God no matter the consequences were not part of her heritage. She didn’t see herself reflected in the Bible, and so her only assumption was that God had rejected her entire gender. My heart broke for her (and as Children’s Director, I did my best to tell the stories of biblical women).
Unfortunately though, ignoring the women of the Bible is far too common in many churches. When their stories aren’t told regularly, the church forgets about them and starts to assume that our faith has roots solely in the deeds of men. While of course those men’s stories are to be valued and explored, the Bible is rich with examples of women of faith as well. The church has often failed to heed their stories, but God remembers who they were and how they served him. He is in truth the God who sees.
The name “the God who sees” (El Roi) was a name given to God by Hagar. An Egyptian slave, cast out by Sarah and Abraham into the desert, she epitomized rejection. But God noticed her plight and came to her aid. In thanksgiving she reaches into her pagan background and ascribes a name to this God who saw her struggles. God accepts this name just as he accepted the rejected and dejected Hagar. Her story is woven into our story of faith – her name for God one of the brief glimpses we have of the nature of God.
I wish all young girls in the church could grow up knowing that God not only sees, but loves and respects women. But this isn’t a message they will hear unless we tell the stories of the women of faith. The story of Hagar naming God. The story of the midwifes participating in civil disobedience and standing up to Pharaoh. The story of a young maiden bearing witness to Namaan. The stories of the women who financed the disciples and trained them in theology. The story of how Jesus chose a social misfit by a well to be his first evangelist. The story of a young teen singing praise to a God who delivers the poor from oppression. The stories of women who God saw.
Women deserve to see themselves as God sees them. He saw in women leaders, teachers, revolutionaries, and protectors of the faith. He wants their stories told. And the church is amiss if we continue to ignore those who God saw and deemed worthy.
This post is part of the International Women’s Day Synchroblog. I will post links to other participants as they become available.