The angel added [to Hagar], “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.” The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me.” Genesis 16:10-13a NIV

A common greeting used by the Zulu people in South Africa comes in two parts. The one person says, “Sikhona!” and the response is “Sawubona!” Sikhona literally means “I am here to be seen,” and Sawubona says, “I see you.”

What a powerful greeting! How often do we give a casual and meaningless “Hi!” or ask “How are you?” The traditional response for that question is, “Fine thanks and you?” I have to confess there have been many times that I have hoped that is all the person will say. I really don’t want to be there for the next ten minutes while he or she tells me exactly how they are!

Yet what a difference we could make to someone’s day if we took a lesson from the Zulu folk. If we were to look each other in the eye and admit, “I am here to be seen!” and hear the other person assure us, “I see you.”

Hagar was Sarah’s servant. Because Sarah was infertile, she ordered Hagar to sleep with her husband Abraham and give him a son. (No pressure!) The son would then be Abraham’s heir.

No sooner was she pregnant, when Sarah started to ill-treat the girl, and eventually Hagar could take no more. She ran away into the desert – an extremely dangerous place for a pregnant young woman.

Suddenly, an angel appeared, and brought her a message from God. Hagar apparently had some spiritual awakening as a result of this angelic visitation. She was so excited, she gave Him her own personal name, Lahai Roi, meaning The God Who Sees.

All of us have a heart-felt need to believe there is someone who sees us. Who really notices us. Who understands and who cares. We want to feel appreciated and affirmed. We long to be valued and celebrated. How great to know that God always sees us!

Whatever word or greeting we choose to use when saying “Hello”, how good it will be if we think about the person and convey that powerful message. “Hello. You are important to me . . . because I see you.”

OVER TO YOU: This week, try to make each greeting, no matter how brief, convey a powerful message. Just a warm greeting, a nod or a smile can say to them, “I see you! And I care.”

Bye for now! Sawubona! I see you!