“The angel of the LORD found her (Hagar) by a spring of water in the wilderness…so, she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are the God who sees’ for she said, ‘Truly, I have seen Him who looks after me.'” – Genesis 16:7,13
“During those many days the king of Egypt died, 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. 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
“O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted in all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD you know it altogether.” – Psalm 139:1-4
We have a God who pays attention to us. He watches over us and He hears our prayers. He is the God who “sees” and “knows”. This is another revelation of our Creator that is evident throughout the Bible. We have already seen it in Genesis and now we see it illustrated in Exodus.
This characteristic of our God is sometimes difficult to grasp because life is not always an easy road. Things like suffering and sickness can rock our world and cause us to doubt God’s presence or that He cares for us. The Bible doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to presenting real struggles and challenging situations. That is one reason that it is so relatable to our struggles today. In this second book of the Bible we see God once again reaching out to a people in trouble. At the end of Genesis Israel was in a good place. They were enjoying a sense of security in the land of Egypt. Unfortunately, in the time leading up to the exodus, there was a change of leadership and the people of Israel went from being appreciated to being oppressed. They went from being “co-laborers” with the Egyptians to “slave labor” for the Egyptians. Things had changed and the situation had deteriorated. So, the people cried out to the Lord for deliverance…and God heard them.
I am sure that during the many of years of suffering there were some that thought God had abandoned them. Maybe He was angry or maybe He had forgotten about His people. I find it hard to believe that God would forget. The Scriptures tell us that even a sparrow does not fall to the ground without the heavenly Father noticing (Matthew 10:29). If this is true, and it most certainly is, what was going on in the case of the suffering Israelites? If God was watching and listening, then why the suffering? It sounds like the age old question, “If there is a loving God, why is there pain and suffering in the world?”
To help deal with these type of unknown or mysterious questions we must focus on what has been clearly been revealed to us in Scripture. For example, the question above insinuates that God may be “unloving” or that God does not exist at all. This is totally contrary to the revelation of who God is throughout the Bible. God exists and He is love. God orchestrates all things for our good and for His glory. He is good and He is paying attention to you. He knows what you are going through. He knows what you need and when you need it. He sees you and hears you when you call to Him.
It is interesting that we never hear the people of Israel ask, “Where have you been, God?” I am sure that there were some who did but, we are reminded again that this not about Israel. It is about God and how He interacts with them. We know that there is suffering in the world and we know that God is watching. The story in Exodus is about God showing up. For today, we need to understand that when we cry out to our Father, He answers “I know and I am here”.