Seen, Heard and Concerned
A few years ago my sisters appendix exploded. I remember her being rushed to the hospital and the family spending countless hours at the hospital. I would go home and play my guitar and write her songs to calm myself. The explosion had made a mess inside of her that had caused her to inflate like a balloon. The doctors had inserted tubes on her sides to drain the puss and other build up inside of her.
At the time I was not really a religious person. I was not even a very emotional person. Crying was not something I normally did. At the time I could not even remember the last time I had cried. But this experience changed things. I would go into my sister's room and I would see her helplessly writhing in pain and soiling herself. I could hear her moan, scream, and cry because of her pain. It was difficult to watch and hear. One time my parents left to go get food and I stayed with her. She began to cry and shout, “I want to die”, and I just held her hand. For the first time in my life I felt absolutely helpless; there was nothing I could do to ease her pain. My emotions got the best of me and I began to weep.
There was nothing I could do to ease the suffering. The feeling of uselessness tore me in half the way nothing else had before. If she was to die at that moment there was nothing I could do to stop it. All I could do was hold her hand and repeat, “everything will be okay”.
Being with my sister as she suffered made me realize that there are very few things that are as painful as watching someone you love suffer. I learned that when people suffer, they do not suffer alone. They suffer with the ones who love them. Her pain was physical, mine was emotional and spiritual. We were in this together.
I was reminded of this experience as we discussed the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” with my Bible class today. When God appeared to Moses in the bush, He said to him,
I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.—Exodus 3:7
Seen their misery
Heard them crying
Concerned about their suffering.
Seen, Heard, and concerned.
Just as I had seen my sister's misery, heard her cries and was moved to tears, so had God seen Israel's misery, heard them crying and was moved to tears. This is not new, I have known this, but when I remembered my sister's pain there was something tangible I could look at.
Just as we suffer when our loved ones suffer, so God suffers when we suffer.
God was not aloof, and He did not stand at a far distance and send Moses to tell the Israelites “everything happens for a reason.” God sent him with the message “I have seen the injustice, I have seen the evil, I have seen the wrong, I have seen the manipulation and I have heard your cries, I have heard your whispered words, I have heard the echoes of your voice bouncing of the walls of your clay shacks, I have heard their evil words, I have heard the crack of the whips and your bones; and yes, I am concerned.”
But what God says next is my favourite part:
So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—Ex 3:8
He Came Down.
He does not say, “I will come down” or “I’ll stay up here and you go.” The message is: I have come down. “I am already here.”
In our pain God graces us with his presence. Just as I was there holding my sister's hand so God was there for his people.
The warrior God had seen, heard and was concerned by his peoples suffering and He had come to do something about it.
That pain I felt that day as I held my sister's hand… God has felt that for me. I imagine this is why God sent Jesus. God had suffered with us and now it was time to put an end to all of it with just one grand painful experience. To take our pain so that we don’t have to suffer. What parent would not rather take their child's pain than to see them suffer? On the cross I see the crucified God who saw our misery, heard our cries and loved us more than himself.
The big difference between God and me is that while I am powerless to redeem life from the grips of death God is stronger. Jesus is stronger. God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, and I know our exodus is not far away. Soon we will see the promise land.
We may suffer now, but praise be to God that he sees our misery; He hears our cries; He is concerned about us and He is here, right now, with us.