Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Does God know what I'm going through?

Exodus 2:23-25

If you’re anything like me and a lot of other believers I know, you have probably had that thought cross your mind before. Maybe you haven’t verbalized it in that way, but a similar thought went through your mind.
I experienced a trying time in ministry back in the early 2000’s where I wondered where God was. The church I was serving was shrinking quickly, I had two young sons that I felt I was failing as a father, financially we were struggling to make it, and I had no idea what God’s plan for my future was. Did God truly know what I was going through?
Intellectually, I understood the theological ramifications of omniscience (hey, I got A’s on my theology exams after all). I cognitively understood that an all-knowing God would know what I’m going through. But in that valley time of life you kind of wonder if God truly understands the heartache and pain you’re experiencing. The Israelites were struggling with that same question in Exodus 2.
A new pharaoh had risen on the scene that had no connection with Joseph and had no desire to learn the history of Joseph. Joseph had saved a previous pharaoh and the Egyptians from a potentially catastrophic famine. Amazingly, Joseph had managed to increase pharaoh’s wealth during the years of famine rather than watch it be destroyed. 
Unfortunately, this new pharaoh had no memory or knowledge of Joseph and saw Joseph’s relatives that had now multiplied greatly in the land as merely a threat. So pharaoh enslaved them and forced them to work as brick makers and brick layers for his building projects. He even enacted a horrific population control measure that involved killing all the male babies born to the Israelite women. Life was grueling and frightening under this new pharaoh and his horrific measures. I’m sure many were asking, “Does God know what we are going through?”
It’s at the low point of this valley in Israel’s history that we come to the passage referenced above. The people groaned and cried out to God in the midst of their suffering. I can imagine their cries going up, “God you have to help us? Don’t you care?”
Their cries were not in vain for verse 24 tells us that God heard their groaning. He heard their prayers, and then we read this sentence in verse 25, “God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” And God knew. That is how the ESV translates the Hebrew phrase and it is an excellent literal translation. The NAS translates it, “And God took notice of them.” The italicized words in the NAS indicate that those words don’t derive from a specific Hebrew term in the text but are added for the purpose of clarity. I prefer the literalness of the ESV here–“and God knew.”
When you read that phrase, you realize that God didn’t merely see His people’s suffering, He knew it. God truly understood what they were going through. In fact, when we think of the suffering of Jesus Christ at the crucifixion, we realize that the timeless, eternal triune God knows. God truly knows suffering and affliction. He doesn’t merely see the suffering you are going through, He knows it. 
We serve a God that can not only sympathize with what were facing, but actually empathize with what we are going through. He is a God that truly cares about us and the suffering we’re enduring. I find that extremely comforting to know that God knows what I’m facing or may face in a very personal way.
I don’t know what you may be facing in your life right now, but maybe you’re wondering whether God knows what you’re going through. Please rest assured that He absolutely does know. And not only that, He cares. 
Take some time today or this week and read Exodus 2:23-25 or read the whole chapter, then camp on the end of verse 25 for a while. “And God knew.”

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