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Suffering: He Has Us in His Hands

HHBC_Suffering_Mark_Wood

Exodus 2:24,25 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.

Suffering comes in many forms in this life. Sometimes it is experienced through poverty, sickness, or pain. Often today we can see or experience the suffering of oppression, bigotry, or racism. Currently, with the Covid-19 situation we are experiencing isolation, dramatic changes in financial security, and uncertain future because of so many unanswered questions.

Suffering can be observed throughout scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, but one of the best examples is found in Exodus chapter 1. The chapter begins with a list of the sons of Jacob who emigrated to Egypt, rescued from famine by God’s loving providence, over 400 years before the appearance of Moses. However, “a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph…. And the Egyptians reduced the Israelites to severe slavery.” (Exodus 1:8,13, Amplified)

In Chapter 2 we get a very quick overview of how Moses was born in the midst of this suffering, his miraculous survival and his eventual flight to Midian, to escape the wrath of Pharaoh. Moses married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, priest of Midian, and had two sons. Meanwhile, verse 23 notes that nearly 40 years passed during this chapter, “and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.” (ESV) Apparently during this time the oppression became much more severe than in the past and the people prayed earnestly, crying out to God for deliverance.

“And God…” These words set the stage for all that follows.

God called Moses, prepared him for encountering Pharaoh and leading the people to freedom.

God heard their sighing and groaning. This is a hearing with love and compassion.

God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. This is a remembrance of application of the covenant, not recollection. God chose to exercise His fulfillment at this point in time as He acted through His knowledge of what was going on and what He promised. 

God saw the people. These were His chosen ones, through no merit of their own. God’s seeing was that of awareness, recognition, and compassion. 

God knew. This knowing is that of deep intimacy and understanding. God chose to know in an intimate way and to act on their behalf because of His knowing. This is the kind of knowing expressed in the Psalms, “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.” (139:2)

God had been hearing with great interest, concern, and care and continued through this time to listen to their sighs and groans. God kept in His memory the promises made to His people through the covenant that depended solely on Him.

And now we live in the presence of this same all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, covenant-keeping God, who has promised never to leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) He knows our yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Ephesians 1:11), and He has us in his hands. (John 10:28) In the midst of all the uncertainties around us today, we can have confidence in this God. He hears; He remembers; He sees; and He knows.