We may be familiar with
many of the names of God. We know him as Elohim and Yahweh. But what about El Roi? That name doesn’t appear to show up in many worship songs.
And yet, in today’s day and age, when we feel our most vulnerable, the most invisible, we can find hope and power in the name of God “El Roi.”
What Does El Roi Mean?
We may have noticed that many names for God include “El.” El typically refers to God. But Roi brings another attribute of our Lord to the equation. El Roi means “The God who sees me.”
Ro’iy in the original Hebrew can be translated as shepherd, or as seeing, looking, or gazing.
In other words, when we feel most invisible and forgotten by everyone else, we can remember that God does see us. He witnesses our struggles and comes alongside us. After all, if he sees the sparrows and takes care of them (Matthew 6:26), how much more does he care for us in our greatest time of need?
In this article, we’ll dive into the use of El Roi in Scripture, reasons to praise God for seeing us, and conclude with a prayer using this name of God.
Who Called God ‘El Roi’ in the Bible and Why?
Unlike many other names for God, we only find the instance of this name once throughout Scripture, and it comes from a very unusual source (Genesis 16).
For those not familiar with the story of Abraham and Hagar, Abraham (the father and patriarch of the Jewish nation) found himself nearing the age of 100 and rather childless. Years before, God had promised him offspring that would form a great nation (Genesis 12:2-3). But it was a little tricky to do that without children.
Abraham gets impatient and decides to take matters into his own hands, per the suggestion of his seemingly barren wife Sarah (Sarai at the time of Genesis 16). He sleeps with his Egyptian servant Hagar, and she gets pregnant.
Hagar appears to dislike Sarai, and Sarai won’t have it. So she abuses Hagar. Fleeing Sarai’s mistreatment, Hagar runs away. She stumbles into the angel of the Lord, who promises Hagar that her son will also form a great nation. He tells her that through her bloodline, she’ll have many descendants.
Because God sees her when no one else does, Hagar declares, “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
Of course, we could pinpoint numerous examples of God seeing those who society chose not to see. He healed lepers, blind men, and the demon-possessed. He had a conversation with an outcast Samaritan woman at the well. It seems, throughout all of Scripture, that God chooses to see the unseen.
How about today?
Do we still have a God who sees us—especially when we feel most invisible?
3 Reasons to Praise God as El Roi Today
Often, it can be easy to think God has forgotten us, or that he simply doesn’t see us. But if we open our eyes to the blessings around us, we’ll see his fingerprints every day.
Let’s dive into a few of the reasons we can praise God as El Roi today.
1. God’s Faithfulness in Hindsight
Do you ever write down prayers or have journal entries? Do you ever glance back at those notes from years before and see how God has moved in your life since then?
In the moment, we may feel as though God has abandoned us. In the midst of a storm, it seems as though God has fallen asleep when the boat’s about to capsize (Mark 4:35-41).
But when we glance back over past events and see how God came through for us—perhaps not always in ways that we imagined—we can apply that to our present circumstances. We can know that God “saw” us in the past. And because He doesn’t change, he will “see” us now…and in the future.
2. Jesus’ Example of Seeing the Marginalized or Outcasts
The Bible states that God knows even the hairs on our heads. Out of the billions of people in the world, he understands more about us than we do (Matthew 10:30).
We may feel tempted to say, “Well, Scripture can talk the talk. But where’s God actually showing an interest in humans?”
The answer: look at Jesus.
Jesus had every opportunity to live as a king. To experience a comfortable life and only hang out with the high priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees (these guys were especially well-to-do).
Instead, he chooses to devote his time to what society perceived to be the lowest of the low. He advocated for tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners.
He saw them.
If we think we’ve strayed too far from the love of God, take a look again at Jesus’ example. He saw everyone who’d been ushered to the sidelines and he healed them, spoke with them, dined with them, and loved them.
Therefore, we know that he can do the same with us, no matter how far we’ve fallen.
3. God Sees to Your Needs with Daily Blessings
We can often take small blessings for granted. The fact that we’re breathing, our organs are functioning properly, and most of us had food to eat today and water to drink…are all blessings. We can see God’s daily blessings if we truly choose to look.
What I’ve found to be helpful is to keep a gratitude journal. I try to mark blessings, even small ones, that I see in each day.
God doesn’t always have to move mountains. He can provide shelter, food to eat, a family to love. Keep track of all the ways he sustains you.
Similar to the journaling mentioned above, look back over older entries. In our most desperate moments, similar to Hagar, we can see the fingerprints of God all over our past. We know he has the future in his hands. And he will never stop seeing us.
Not even for a second.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Predrag Images
Prayer of Praise to El Roi
Oh, El Roi,
You are the God who sees me. When I feel ushered to the sidelines or forgotten by friends, family, and coworkers, I know you’re working behind the scenes.
God, as I review over past weeks, even years, I’ve witnessed you working in miraculous ways. I know you have seen me in the past, when no one else did. And so I can fully trust that you will continue to care for me, even when I’ve entered the darkest valley.
I’m reminded of the story of Hagar.
She, a lowly servant, had been impregnated by a man who didn’t care for her, and treated poorly by a scornful wife of that man. But still, when she fled to the desert, she found hope in your promises.
You care for every human being, no matter how much society has rejected them or placed no value on them.
Jesus, through your example, you saw those who society had turned a blind eye.
In the same way, I ask that you see me today. That you come alongside me in my struggle, and that you grant me your peace. Remind me of your good deeds from the past, so that I may, too, hope in my future.