Scripture: Exodus 3:7-8
Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote years ago, “Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone.” That’s the popular mindset, that’s the perspective society often has today. It’s the way people often see life. You are supposed to be happy, upbeat, content with all the things around you. If you are hurting or sad however, it may seem no one else wants to relate, that you’re a burden. That mindset can be carried over to God. When you’re were hurting, when you’re struggling, when you’re in pain, you may think that God doesn’t want much to do with you. You may also think he doesn’t care, or that he isn’t paying attention to your situation. He’s more concerned with the spiritual superstars, the folks who are living life exactly as they should and who have the correct outlook. When you look to the Bible however, you see just the opposite is true. It’s the hurting, the oppressed, the lonely, the grieving that are the focus of God’s attention.
Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
So is it really the tremendously talented Christian musician that God notices most? Is it the preacher who packs auditoriums and writes bestselling books? Is it the church leader that always seems to have his/her act together? No, what he notices most, what captivates his heart, is the suffering of his people. When you think that God doesn’t care, it is then that He is paying the most attention to your plight, whatever it may be.
For 400 years the people of Israel had suffered at the hands of Egyptian masters. Where was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when they needed him most? Chapter 2 of the book of Exodus closes with these words, “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).
“And God knew”
God wasn’t just aware, he was intimately acquainted, thoroughly involved, and he was working faithfully and skillfully on his plan to deliver his people. With these words, chapter 2 ends and chapter 3 begins with the burning bush. You’ve heard the story of the burning bush that wasn’t consumed, and how Moses turned aside to see it, and how God spoke to Moses through it. What is often overlooked however, is why the burning bush was there. Why did God go to the trouble of speaking to Moses at that time? What was motivating God to do the spectacular things that he did? It was love and concern for his people. Even though they may have thought God had forgotten them, they were very much on his heart and mind. The same is true for you today.
First, when you think God doesn’t care, he sees. Exodus 3:7 begins, “Then the Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt…’” Nothing escapes the gaze of God. Another way to translate the word here “seen” is “carefully watched” or “paid close attention.” Jesus says in Matthew 10: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
God sees your tears over the passing of a parent or spouse.
God sees your frustration in the midst of your family problems.
God sees your overdue bills and the shut off notice you received.
God sees your struggle at school or at work.
God sees your service at church, though no one else may seem to notice.
He sees your worry, your heartache, your despair.
He sees you, loves you, and longs to carry your load.
Again, 1 Peter 5:6-7 says,
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
When you think God doesn’t care, he sees.
When you think God doesn’t care, he hears. …“I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters….”
Think about the life of a Hebrew while in slavery in Egypt. The working conditions were unbearable. You may think your job is awful, but at least you are getting paid. If you’re a volunteer, at least you’re doing so willingly, you aren’t forced to work.
You’re well aware of the slavery of African Americans that existed in this country more than a century ago. Most of you are aware that there are still slaves today, people who are being bought and sold, all over the world. The name of the practice is human trafficking, and it’s a horrible thing. Some have been fortunate to have escaped, many others have not.
Many, many others are enslaved to lifestyles, to addictions, to habits and there seems to be no hope of escape or freedom. You may be one of them. When you pray for relief, when you ask God for freedom, he hears you. He listens.
In preparing this message I came across a letter a pastor had received from a member of his congregation. Here is what it said:
In my forty-four-month battle with alcohol, I tried everything the medical profession thought would help. Nothing did: psychiatrists, psychologists, treatment centers, antidepressant medicines, all types of tranquilizers. But nothing did it. Then, in desperation, I sought God. God delivered me.
“I promised Him, since He would not let me die, ‘God, You must have a purpose for me. If You’ll let me live a respectable life and free me from this bondage, every day You permit me to live, I’ll serve You and I’ll never rob You again.’
“Every day God stays at least ten paces ahead of me. I’m blessed every day in more ways than I can deserve, and nowhere can a happier man be found.”
That’s an example of the complete salvation that God offers—out of bondage to alcohol into the worship and service of the living God. Jesus does for us what Moses and Joshua did for Israel. He delivers us out of bondage into the Promised Land. His listening is not a passive listening, but an active listening that is intent on acting in your behalf.
Then, when you think God doesn’t care, he knows. “Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings,” “Know” here means very much acquainted, intimately connected. God had measured all their tears in slavery. He knew about every strike of every whip over four hundred years. He knew the pain at the end of the day. He knew all about their sorrows and their grief. He was no stranger to them. He knows your life today and the things that trouble you. King David grasped how well God knows a person when he said,
“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 with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:1-4).
Hebrews 4:15-16 also says,
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
When you think God doesn’t care, he knows.
Then, when you think God doesn’t care, he delivers. “Then the Lord said,… “I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey,” God doesn’t just possess mere sentiment – he also possesses power. That power can and does deliver you. In this passage, there was something God was saving the people from. He was saving them from their slavery in Egypt, delivering them from the house of bondage. There was also however, something he was saving them to. He was saving them into the Promised Land. His plan was to bring them out of the land of slavery and captivity and into a land gushing with milk and honey. This was the land that God had promised to Abraham—the land of Canaan. He described it as “a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” It was a “good” land. God mentions milk and honey because those foods require green pastures and consistent harvests. The land he promised was peaceful, fruitful, and abundant. It was also a “broad” land or a spacious land. The Bible lists the six nations that were already living in the land. These nations had to be driven out, of course, but if the land was big enough for all of them, surely it was roomy enough for the Israelites. The point here is that God not only knew and cared about the plight of his people, but was in the process of doing something about it.
The story of the exodus is the history of how God rescues his people, working out their whole salvation from beginning to end. In this personal, saving relationship God brought them out of all their troubles into a good and happy place. It is a foreshadowing of what God does for you in Jesus Christ. He saves you, then he continues to deliver you from the trials that you face. If you don’t experience deliverance in this life, you will experience it in the life to come.
If you have not invited Jesus to save you from your sins, then that is the first step to experiencing the deliverance God provides. There is no greater deliverance than deliverance from the penalty of sin. The Bible says in Romans 6:23,
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If you have been delivered from the penalty of sin, God can and will deliver from the other things that bind you and prevent you serving him to your fullest. In serving him to your fullest, you experience happiness that is unrivaled in any other way of living. You may need to be baptized to obey Jesus – it’s the first step you take as a believer. It strengthens your faith. You may need to join this church – everyone needs a place to belong, and by joining you say “First Baptist Nitro is where I belong, and where my family belongs.”