Sometimes I don't have to dig too deep for words. They flow easy because what I'm experiencing in life and what's written in the Text just seem to collide. This is true today as the pages fall open to the plight of the Israelites in Egypt. As I read my thoughts go something like this, (and picture fist to chest), "Oh, man...I feel ya' on this one, peeps. I feel ya' deep." No, I don't have evil taskmasters demanding me to make bricks and find my own straw. And no one with a sword or club is threatening my life while I work. I am not in literal slavery (Like many are even in this moment. Join with me in begging God for their freedom. Come, Lord Jesus!) However, I do resonate on some level with the feeling of weakness and the longing for relief that the Israelites must have felt. I do understand to a degree constant waves of opposition...over and over crashing on the shoreline of daily life...the incessant knot in my gut and the desperation for deliverance, the overwhelming effort it takes to just do the next thing, the palpable spiritual oppression, the confusion of all that going on, the "How long, O LORD?" prayers. I've done my share of groaning and crying out for help....
"During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help." Exodus 2:23
But what comes next after these words...that is what steals my breath away. In desert seasons like this, these words strengthen my bones. I can almost feel their very truth and light infusing every nook and cranny of my being.
"Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob, God saw the people of Israel - and God knew." Exodus 2:23-25
When I read them over and over, when I preach this truth to my soul, these words crash even louder than the waves of opposition. This is our God!
Here are my takeaways:
1) God hears my groaning. Even when it is not directed towards Him. Even when I'm complaining or just offering up directionless cries to the wind, He hears. God's ears are attentive to the cries of His people. Even when I pray the same thing over and over. Even when circumstances don't seem to have an end in sight and there's no light at the end of the tunnel. I can know He hears me. No prayer is wasted. He hears my spoken words. And He hears the silent cries of my heart. He even hears the sound of my tears. God is paying attention. He is involved and no cry from His children will ever escape His ears.
2) God remembers His covenant promises forever. And for us, on this side of the cross, every covenant promise has been met in Christ Jesus. The Risen Lamb, the King of Kings, seated at the right hand of the Father is our constant representative before God Almighty. God the Father looks at Christ the Son and remembers that we are sealed in the New Covenant. He sees us as His covenant children. He remembers the blood shed, the payment in full, the power of the resurrection, the righteousness and eternal life that is now ours - Christ our Mediator. We are in eternal covenant with God through Christ and He stands before Him as a constant declaration and testimony...a constant "reminder" (not that the Father needs to be reminded) of our covenant with Him. And God, true to His promise and covenant forever, will be ever faithful and true. That is some solid hope for this shaky soul on days like today.
3) God sees. He see absolutely everything that happens to you and me. And He sees not only in the physical realm, but the spiritual as well. He sees the seen and the unseen. And He sees the past, present and future. He sees it all. So much more than we see. He sees the outward and the inward of a person's heart. He sees the external action and the internal motivation. He sees the spiritual arrows aimed at us and the angelic realm ministering on our behalf. He sees my fears and failures, my joys and sorrows. He sees me. And He sees you. You are always under the watchful eye of a loving Father. And in Christ, He is never looking at us through eyes of judgment, but with eyes of compassion. His gaze is fixed on us as objects of His love, not wrath. As adopted children in His family, not enemies or foreigners. Oh, my soul...how it comforts to know my Father sees me. And sees all around me. We are the apple of His eye.
4) God knows. This might be the most moving to me. When I think of ears and eyes I think of physical senses. But when it says, "- and God knew.", that means He was intimately involved with the suffering of His people on a deep heart and mind level. The Hebrew word is "yada'"...to be acquainted or to know from experience. God's knowledge wasn't like "Yeah, I know about it", (like you might answer a friend who sends you a text with news of a recent hurricane that you had just been reading about online.) But rather God's knowledge is more like, "Yes, I am keenly aware." (like you might answer a friend who sends you a text with news of a recent hurricane and you are actually driving right through and witnessing first hand the ravaged neighborhoods and cities). God doesn't just "know" our circumstances in a merely informational manner, He knows our sufferings in an experiential manner. He is the God of compassion. Jesus is our sympathetic High Priest. He knows this world. He knows what it's like to endure. He intimately knows every blow we take, every effort we make, every thought we have, every longing of our heart, every force against us, every wall we must climb, every drop of rain drenching us from the storm...He knows.
In the midst of circumstances I cannot control, this brings me such hope. It's a balm to my battered soul to know that God, my God, my loving Father, hears, sees, remembers and intimately knows. And since His actions are always motivated by a heart beating with steadfast lovingkindness and He is always working for the good of His children and for His glory, I can know that even if it seems He is not delivering in the moment, He is not unaware, and He is most certainly on the move.
Even as I type, the opposition of today presses in and tears fill my eyes. I hear more heavy sighing than cheerful singing from my lungs. But the underlying truth is that both the weak groans and the strong cries of my heart are known.
Jehovah Jireh will see to it. He blankets us in grace and holds us up by the power of His love and care and faithful provision. Always. He is the unchanging God. Christ our Deliverer has surely provided all we need and will continue to uplift and uphold.
Dear fellow sojourners, my prayer for us today is this: As surely as God is listening, may we continue to voice our prayers in bold confidence. As surely as He remembers, may we stand in His covenant promises and hold fast to His Word. As surely as He sees, may we also attentively look on Him, eyes locked on His beauty and His loving gaze towards us. And as surely as He knows, may we make it our chief aim to know Christ, with our hearts and minds, and to live to make Him known to a desperate, longing, aching world.