God had promised good news.
The Almighty had promised he would give a fantastic land to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their children. He also promised they would become a great nation, a great multitude, and that from their family tree would come one fantastic seed who would cause them to become a great blessing to all other nations.
God had also promised bad news.
However, God had also promised 400 years of suffering. In Genesis 15, the Lord said to Abram, “…. Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” (Gen. 15:13-15)
God always performs what he promises.
Now it was somewhere around 500 years after God had first spoken to Abram. Much water had gone under the bridge. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel, and Joseph had come and gone. A favorable Pharaoh had passed, and an anti-semite had taken the throne. The Israelites had been marginalized, oppressed, enslaved, abused, and murdered, and this had gone on and on for four centuries under the ever-watching eye of God.
God is so confusing.
We don’t know why, but …
- He ordained and decreed such misery.
- He prophesied and promised such.
- He allowed the unchosen to prosper while the chosen suffered.
- He watched every action of every abuser without missing a day.
- He could have intervened any time; God’s power was absolute.
- He ordained and decreed the magnitude and length of the misery.
He could have ordained differently. He could have promoted the less abusive. He could have limited the tenure of the torture. However, he didn’t, and he does not call upon us to be his bashful apologists or his pitiful defense attorneys.
The same is true for you and me as we hurt and languish today. Whether your suffering comes from your body, your mind, your emotions, your spouse, your ex, your children, your job, your church, your government, your neighbors, your planet, or your devil, it all happens under the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent God who sovereignly gives and takes away.
God rights the wrong, in his own time, for his own people.
Listen to the words of Moses in Exodus 2:23-25, “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.”
After several centuries of grief, God determined to sovereignly intervene and change the situation. However, even then, he was slower than some would have preferred. There would be months of presentations, plagues, promises, and increased penalties levied on the Israelite slaves. God could have lowered the big-boom or the 10th plague first, but he did not do so. However, when all was said and done, God heard Israel’s groans and cries, he remembered his covenant, he knew his chosen people and their affliction, and he determined to go to work saving them.
In your confused misery, do not doubt his sovereignty. Regardless of what your aching heart, troubled mind, disbelieving neighbors, or pathetic theologians tell you, God is sovereign over all the affairs of man. Never doubt his all-seeing eye, always-present self, and all-powerful hand.
In your confused misery, do not doubt his commitment. He who saved you by means of sacrificing his Beloved Son, does he not love you with eternal love, and will he not also grant you all things you need — forever? Please my hurting friends, do not doubt his power or his compassion.
In your confused misery, groan, scream, cry, and pray. Talk to him about all your hurts he is sovereignly allowing. Talk to him about how much you hate wickedness and its consequences. Beg for ultimate relief, and ask him to be your helper until he relieves you. Prayer can help you be rid of your hellish circumstances; it can also help you handle the hellish circumstances that God is not pleased to terminate in the present day.
In your confused misery, look for the glorious day awaiting God’s chosen ones. Many Israelites perished in slavery in Egypt. Many perished in the wilderness wanderings. Most did not see the Promised Land and enjoy the days of conquest. But all who were chosen by God, and sacrificed according to the religion of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and by doing so were looking forward to the coming Lamb of God who is Jesus Christ, they are partying in paradise today. For more than 3500 years they have been basking in the radiance of the strange and mysterious God who gives and takes away. And so it will be for all who are in saving union with Jesus Christ. He may not save you today from your pain. He may not save you during your lifetime. But I promised you he hears, remembers, and knows you intimately, and one day you will never suffer again.
But until them, cry, scream, groan, and moan with your brothers and sisters. But never doubt the all-seeing, all-powerful, always-present, always-victorious, always-loving, never-changing God, Friend, Lover, Groom, and Savior.