Shortly after I took a position as Children's Ministry Director at a small Baptist church, I sat down with the kids under my care and asked them what questions they would like to ask God. One girl, one of the oldest in the class who had grown up in churches and private Christian schools, told me that she would ask God why he hates girls. I asked her why she thought that and she replied that since there were no women in the Bible and since Jesus only choose male disciples, God must hate girls. To a fifth grader at least that's the way things appeared.
I was shocked to hear her assumption. Here was a girl immersed in the church who had never been exposed to the stories of the women of the Bible. She had never been told of the mothers of the faith or the women leaders in the early church. The stories of women faithfully choosing to serve and follow God no matter the consequences were not part of her heritage. She didn't see herself reflected in the Bible, and so her only assumption was that God had rejected her entire gender. My heart broke for her (and as children's director, I did my best to tell the stories of biblical women).
Unfortunately though, ignoring the women of the Bible is far too common in many churches. When their stories aren't told regularly, the church forgets about them and starts to assume that our faith has roots solely in the deeds of men. While of course those men's stories are to be valued and explored, the Bible is rich with examples of women of faith as well. Though the church fails to heed their stories, God remembers who they were and how they served him. He is in truth the God who sees.
The name "the God who sees" (El Roi) was a name given to God by Hagar. An Egyptian slave, cast out by Sarah and Abraham into the desert, she epitomized rejection. But God noticed her plight and came to her aid. In thanksgiving she reaches into her pagan background and ascribes a name to this God who saw her struggles. God accepts this name just as he accepted the rejected and dejected Hagar. Her story is woven into our story of faith