Scrolling through social media is an easy way to pass the time. We scan images from a stranger’s vacation, celebrate a family member’s life accomplishment, find amusement in memes, flip through headlines, and more. Our eyes glaze over. Our thumbs go on autopilot. Our minds ignore almost everything else around us.
We scroll to escape. We scroll to pass time. We rarely scroll in a truly attentive way.
How different is God! God the Father is not distractedly thumbing through a feed to “catch up” on snippets of our lives. He’s sovereignly accomplishing his purposes in every part of our lives. Jesus isn’t lazily scrolling through the reels or stories of his people. He’s personally and passionately interceding for them. The Holy Spirit isn’t passively scanning your pictures and posts, engaging every now and then with a “like” or emoji comment. He’s present and at work, forming you and pointing you to Christ.
God of Seeing
Genesis 16 opens with Sarai and Abram, in a blatant act of unbelief, hijacking the life and womb of Abram’s servant, Hagar. Deciding to bypass God’s providential timing, Abram sleeps with Hagar to ensure the family line. But Hagar’s pregnancy is not universally celebrated. In an act of jealousy, Sarai mistreats Hagar until she flees. At the spring on the way to Shur (Gen 16:7), God meets Hagar and speaks to her a word of promise.
Moses records Hagar’s response, “So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing’” (Gen. 16:13). Victor Hamilton points out:
Hagar actually confers on deity a name. No other character in the OT, male or female, does that. It is not unusual for mortals to give names to family members, to animals, to sacred sites, but never to one’s God, with the exception of Hagar.
The only person in the Old Testament who gives God a name is the mistreated and unseen Hagar. Abram did not see Hagar. He had gazed at Hagar’s naked body but had not seen her. Sarai did not see Hagar. She had imagined the fruitful potential of Hagar’s body but had not seen her. They certainly knew of her. They were aware of how she could serve their purposes. But they did not see her. But God saw her. And this changed everything.
Abram did not see Hagar. Sarai did not see Hagar. But God saw her. And this changed everything.
Kent Hughes writes, “Hagar realized that all her knowledge of God depended on his initiative in knowing her. When she felt as if God were absent, she learned that he was watching over her (cf. Psalm 139:1–12).”
And so she named him, God of Seeing. She who had felt invisible finally met the One who saw her.
Christian, when is the last time you meditated on the God of Seeing? In a world of distracted glances and ceaseless, passive scrolling, God sees you. He sees you not with a casual glance but with an intentional, focused gaze; not simply with the incriminating eye of a Judge but with the compassionate heart of a Savior.
God Sees You
God’s seeing is different from how others see you, especially how they see you on social media. He’s not passing by, silently observing in an anonymous way. He sees you and makes it known that he sees you.
God’s seeing may even be different from how you want to be seen. While many of our social posts, TikTok videos, and Instagram stories are seeking to be seen, it’s a “seen” that’s interested in being noticed, but not necessarily known.
Eyes that scroll past our posts and pictures for entertainment are decidedly different from God—who sees and stays. He abides. He cares. His seeing is such that he can count the number of hairs on your head and the tears that fall from your eyes. You are not a passing moment of entertainment for him. You are not a means of distraction. You are the reflection of his glory and the object of his delight. He sees you.
Eyes that scroll past our posts and pictures for entertainment are decidedly different from God—who sees and stays.
A god who scrolls would not be worthy of our worship. He would not be able to offer deep comfort to us in our deep sorrows. His affection would be no more encouraging than a three-second view of our posted videos.
The all-attentive and affectionate God of the Bible doesn’t scroll through your life. He sees you. He does not merely notice but knows you. He is worthy of our worship. Because he sees you, you can sing with Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant” (Luke 1:46–48).