The Lord Sees: Learn to Rest in God's Justice (2024)

The longer I live, the more often I whisper to myself, “The Lord sees.”

It’s a biblical truth repeated throughout Scripture. The psalmist sees all of life taking place coram Deo: before the face of God. “The LORD looks down from heaven,” he writes. “He observes everyone” (Ps. 33:13). Nothing escapes God’s notice. “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry for help” (34:15).

The heart’s silent cry, giving rise to tears of anguish no one else sees—the aloneness compounds the heartache. In those moments when you’re wronged, or your name is slandered, or your intentions are questioned . . . In the times when you feel alone or abandoned . . . In the aftermath of saying what’s true and paying a price, when you’ve experienced the deep wounds of injustice or betrayal . . . the Lord sees.

The Lord is the One who untangles all our hidden motivations, the Shepherd who knows our hopes and fears. The Lord knows our desires. The Lord sees the quiet suffering we endure when others sin against us. The Lord sees us in troubled times, notes every unmerited slight and insult flung our way, and observes the chill that descends when those around us fall short of Christ’s call to love.

El Roi: The God Who Sees

“El Roi” is a name given to God in the Old Testament, a source of comfort and peace in times of distress. It first falls from the trembling lips of Hagar, the enslaved woman driven into the wilderness after being caught up in the sinful designs of her master and his wife. There she kneels, despondent and despairing, ready for life to come to an end. And there in that desert of sorrow, the Lord sees. Transformed by the gracious presence of the God of all justice and mercy, Hagar speaks with surprising confidence. She names the Lord who spoke to her: “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?” (Gen. 16:13).

El Roi. The God who sees.

It’s the tender nature of our Father to speak to us in the wilderness of pain, to come alongside us when we feel the sting of injustice, the sadness of lost love, the sorrow of dried-up friendships, the hurt of neglect and rejection. The Lord sees.

The Father Who Sees in Secret

Jesus assures us the Father sees not only when we’re wronged but also when we do right, when we practice our righteousness in secret. The reason he tells us not to perform righteous acts before others is because, once again, the Father is El Roi: the God who sees. We live for the Lord, trusting that the Father who sees in secret will reward us (Matt. 6).

God sees not only the wrongs you’ve experienced but all the righteous deeds no one else has noticed. All the thankless tasks you’ve performed. All the quiet prayers offered in solitude. All the times you’ve met barbs of criticism with a balm of kindness. All the moments you’ve answered evil with good. All your acts of love that were never reciprocated. All the times you’ve overlooked an offense or have forgiven others their wrongdoing.

The God Who Sees Your Sin

Of course, coming to grips with the all-seeing God leads to truth that cuts both ways. In an age like our own, when there’s power in claiming victimhood status, it’d be easy to focus only on the comfort we receive in knowing that God sees the wrongs done to us. But the Scriptures press us further.

God doesn’t only see when we’re sinned against. He sees when we sin against others. “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer,” said the apostle Peter, quoting the Old Testament. “But,” he adds, “the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil” (1 Pet. 3:12). Likewise, we read in Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, observing the wicked and the good.”

The deeper implication of El Roi should stir up fear of the Lord, a reverence toward him that turns us outward in love for others. The Lord sees. Knowing our sins against others, we shudder. He sees all our careless thoughts, our hateful words, our backbiting ways, our manipulative intentions, our selfish actions, our bitter deeds.

The Lord sees more than just my sorrow; he sees all my sin. When Peter denied Jesus for the third time and the rooster crowed, “the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:61). The Lord’s gaze does more than comfort; it confronts. The Lord sees. And so we rest in the knowledge that God sees all the suffering we endure, and we commit to a life of love—flowing from a repentant heart that seeks forgiveness from others, a life of faithful friendship that rejects selfishness.

Seeing the Lord

The good news of the gospel is that God has compassion on the suffering sinners and sinful sufferers. He sees us when we sin, and he sees us when we’re sinned against, and he loves us through it all. The One who sees now commands us to look to him and live. See the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. See the Son of suffering. See the Servant crushed for our inquiry. Look and live.

El Roi, the God who sees, is the God who will be seen. One day, the pure in heart will see God. Our faith will be sight. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:8–9).

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The Lord Sees: Learn to Rest in God's Justice (2024)


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