The God Who Sees Me

August 4, 2020 | 3 minute read
David Hearn


The news report was matter of fact. BC’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, stated there were two more deaths over the May long weekend. Information like this had become part of the daily routine of reporting deaths caused by COVID-19. What made this report different was that one of the deaths was my wife Agnes’ dad, Abe. Abe passed away at 9:45 p.m. on Sunday night after struggling for five days with COVID-19.

The pandemic hit the seniors home where he lived several weeks earlier; however, communication from that home was very limited and contact with family allowed intermittently. We have no idea how much or how long Agnes’ dad suffered, but we do know he was often alone. No family could sit with him, hold his hand, or pray over him. We take comfort in knowing that God never left his side. To God, Abe was not just another casualty of a pandemic—he was a man deeply loved and valued by the God of the universe.

One of the most touching scenes in the Old Testament is the encounter Haggar had with God when fleeing from her unbearable domestic situation (Genesis 16:1-13). Denise Kohlmeyer in Hagar and El Roi, the God who Sees 1 describes it like this:

She’d been mistreated by her mistress. She’d not wanted to do what was asked of her, but as a slave with no rights or opinions, she’d had no choice. Out of desperation, she’d finally fled because she couldn’t take the abuse and the pain anymore; and she quickly found herself alone and defenseless, without shelter or sustenance. And pregnant, no less. To say she felt scared, lonely, and unloved is an understatement. She wondered, in her despair, if anyone cared about her or what was happening to her. Or her baby.

 In that moment of complete aloneness, Hagar discovers that the God of all creation had not forgotten her.

The angel of the Lord found her near a spring in the desert and called her by name, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8). Earlier in the chapter, when Hagar was addressed by Abraham and Sarai, she is referred to as “my slave” and “your slave” (Genesis 16: 5,6). It seems that she is treated more like a commodity than a person. Yet, in God’s economy no one is a commodity. No one is nameless; rather all are precious, valued, and wanted. I wonder how powerful it was for Hagar to hear God use her name. The conversation was so life-changing that Hagar gave God a name that reflected her experience. She called God El Roi, which means the God who sees me. She declared, “You are the God who sees me…I have now seen the One who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).

For many, long-term isolation and physical distancing has resulted in higher levels of insecurity and anxiety. Cues received by being in the physical company of others are no longer present. Even though Zoom is a great tool for getting business done, it does not compensate for social contact. The word virtual is becoming increasingly irritating.  Those who live on their own are particularly vulnerable to waves of sadness and discouragement. On a personal level, I have experienced more gloomy days emotionally than I have for a long time. I did not realize how much of the enjoyment and energy of my ministry world was in the context of the physical presence of others.

The emerging reality is that the emotional fallout of COVID-19 is more debilitating than any of us could have imagined. Many find themselves in a desert, wondering if anyone understands or sees their needs. Take heart—the God who sees, sees you! He knows your greatest fears; He engages in your deepest anxieties and understands your darkest emotions. You are not forgotten. You are not nameless. You are not a commodity.

I don’t know what my father-in-law’s last days were like. He was in the advanced stages of dementia. I am sure the confusion of his illness and the absence of familiar contact was difficult. However, in stillness of his last moments when no one else was present, El Roi, the God who sees was with him. The God who holds the planets in their orbit knows Abe. In the midst of the challenges this pandemic is creating lies an opportunity for us to have an intimate encounter with God—a time to explore the God who sees me and declare from our heart, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). Abe matters, and so do you!

1 Kohlmeyer, Denis. Hagar and El Roi, The God Who Sees. Christian Living,


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David Hearn

David’s passion is to see The Alliance Canada as a Christ-centred, Spirit-empowered, and Mission-focused movement. He often quotes A.B. Simpson, founder of the Alliance, who declared, "This movement stands for a spirit of self-sacrifice, adjustment, adaptation and single-hearted love for people. We are called to a spirit so possessed with one supreme object, to gain men and women for Christ, that it sweeps over every other consideration in its over mastering purpose of love."

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  1. So sorry to hear the sad news of Agnes’ father, Dave. Our sympathies are with your family. With gratitude for “the God Who sees,” who knows, and who comes down to Hagar – and all of us. We need His presence, and we need one another. Thanks for your encouragement.

  2. Deepest condolences! Along with Agnes and you … we thank God “Who Sees” always. May you experience HS comfort.

  3. Rick and I are sorry for your loss and take comfort in the fact that He is now home with Jesus…mind and body made new…love you guys

  4. I pray that even with social distancing we can truly continue to see and support ach other deeply. We send our condolences and prayers of comfort to you from from Terrace.

  5. So sorry to hear of your loss, may God give you peace, and comfort and strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow!

  6. So very sorry to hear the news about Agnes’ dad. What a great reminder to us all that our God never sleeps and is ever at work. The reminder of 2 Chronicles 16:9 is a wonderful reminder of the truth of Hagar’s story: “The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” I have no doubt that such was true of Agnes’ dad. God saw him. And He welcomed him home for good.

  7. Agnes and David, so sorry for your loss. Thanks for being an encourager at all times! You both are so awesome! May God grant you peace and comfort, and a unity with your family. Love & Prayers!

  8. Having served with your father, Agnes, over those amazingly fruitful years at Sevenoaks Alliance I observed first-hand his passion for souls in the church’s evangelism program and his care for the twenty or so families in his Elders Care group. Without doubt Abe was an obedient disciple of Jesus. With body and mind transformed by the resurrection power of Jesus Christ he is doubtless rejoicing with those who have gone before us and whom he led to his Savior and shepherded so faithfully. “Through Jesus we (as did he) have obtained access by faith into this grace. . . and we rejoice” Rom. 5:2 May you find comfort in this assurance.

  9. So sorry to hear of Agnes’ Dad’s death. Not being able to be with him during that time makes it even more difficult. Praying for comfort for you. These are certainly “strange” days. The fact that God SEES, HEARS and IS WITH US is so vital to remember during these days. I, like you, Dave, am really missing personal contact/interaction. We were made to be “community”. I have become more aware of communion with the Triune God during this time though, so that has been valuable.

  10. What a deep hole is left when our loved ones go on before us – and how deep is the Father’s love too! Knowing that Abe is now clear-minded and 100% himself, enjoying his time with Jesus, is a beautiful picture. Thank you for sharing with us and our prayers for God’s comfort will continue with you all for a long while yet as you walk the path of grief, and remember Abe.

  11. So very sorry to hear of the loss of your father-in-law. Your blog certainly touched my own heart as I am suffering from covid fatigue as I live alone. It is hard. May God comfort you and Agnes at this time.

  12. I hope it is a relief to you, Agnes and Dave, to know that Dad is no longer locked in his aged body, and a comfort and joy to think of him praising the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit along with all the angels and the four living creatures, and the millions of other Jesus followers around the throne of glory. What a scene he is part of now! Blessings.

  13. Thank you for sharing this with us. Our hearts go out in deeper care for all those who have lost a loved one and could not be with them to hold their hand. Lord God, we pray for those others our lives do not personally touch in any way as this brings the reality of their sorrow to us so much more. Please bind up their wounds too. Lord, what would You have us do?

  14. Our Love and prayers are with you in your loss of your dear dad. Great words of comfort Dave for us all.

  15. Our hearts and our prayers go out to you at the loss of your dad. Losing a parent is never easy and even more so during this time of social distancing. May God continue to bring the truth of His constant presence and comfort to your hearts and minds.

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