January 1, 2023


You are the God who sees me. Genesis 16:13


Dear Reader,


this sentence comes from Hagar, a slave girl. She belongs to the childless couple Abraham and his wife Sarah. God had promised a son to both. But as years go by the two old people lose patience over time and take care of the problem by themselves. The slave Hagar is to become the surrogate mother for the long-awaited child. So, Hagar becomes pregnant and now proudly looks down on the childless Sarah. However, Sarah resists and humiliates her slave. The humiliation is so deep that the expectant mother flees in despair into the desert.


Until then, God has been watching. But now he intervenes and sends his angel to Hagar in the desert. The angel of the LORD asks Hagar, "“Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” Hagar says honestly: I have fled. I could no longer bear to stay with that woman.


The angel of the LORD does not praise Hagar. He does not confirm her behavior. On the contrary. He sends her back. God expects this suffering, pregnant woman to return to the old living conditions. But it does not stop there. He gives her a great promise: you will have a son who will one day have countless descendants. His name shall be Ishmael.


In this moment, Hagar realizes that God Himself has talked to her. Hagar no longer sees her misery, in a life without perspective. She sees with her heart that God has not lost sight of her, but that He is seeing her. He has seen her all along, even if she did not realize it. God sees her and he loves her!


I am greatly encouraged by this story of Hagar. Like Hagar, I too can be certain: God sees me. God sees where I live and how I live. God sees what I suffer from. God sees the conflicts and relationship crises which I am going through. God sees me even when I lose sight of him. He sees me and he loves me.

But God not only sees me, but He also has great promises for my life. I want to illustrate this with Zacchaeus, a little rich man. His story is told in the New Testament in 19th chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Zacchaeus is curious. He desperately wants to see Jesus, who is coming to Jericho. But the crowds overlook this little guy. They don't like him. He is corrupt and enriches himself by taking it from the poor. So, he climbs on a mulberry tree and waits in the branches until Jesus comes by with his disciples.


As Jesus walks through the streets of Jericho, there are many spectators along the way. Everyone is gawking at him. But in front of the mulberry tree, of all places, Jesus stops, looks up at Zacchaeus and asks him to come down quickly. Jesus says, "Zacchaeus, I want to come to your home and visit you! Let's eat together!”


This totally changed this man's life. Zacchaeus not only welcomes Jesus into his home, but also enthusiastically he welcomes Jesus into his life. I am sure that Zacchaeus told his friends: Jesus, the Messiah, has seen me. He will become my friend!


A new year lies ahead in front of us all. What will await us? Problems at work or in the family? Perhaps, like Hagar, an escape from a relationship crisis? Perhaps you will feel like Zacchaeus: small and marginalized by others?


Be encouraged by the quotation from the Bible which can become a password for the new year, "You are the God who sees me." God is seeing you as he saw Hagar and Zacchaeus. He sees you because he loves you unconditionally. He seeks to speak with you as he spoke with Hagar and Zacchaeus. He speaks through his word. The Bible is God's word.


God has a plan for your life. Please allow God to ask the question that He asked Hagar: “Where have you come from, and where are you going?” The answer to these two questions can set an important course for the coming year. I wish you to find the answers to these questions and enter the new year with confidence! I wish you to look to Jesus Christ. He sees you and loves you.

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© 2023 Hans-Peter Nann