Show me Your glory, I pray.
After a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned
under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for
help rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and God
remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
God looked upon the Israelites and God took notice of them.
Have you ever had something so painful in your life that you tried to ignore it? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you buried your head in the sand? I have! It’s called denial. Some wag has said, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” Twelve Step groups have popularized the adage about the danger of not acknowledging and facing up to a problem. That is because there is no hope of growth or transformation until we first recognize there is a problem.
Denial ran deep for the suffering Israelites in the bondage of Egypt until finally they had enough and they “groaned” and “cried out”. Suffering leads to nothing until it is acknowledged. If suffering alone were redemptive, we would all be saints! Suffering has to be owned and acknowledged so that it first leads to crying out. As theologian Martin Marty wrote after the death of his wife: “Brokenness and wounding do not occur in order to break human dignity but to open the heart so God can act.” (Martin Marty, A Cry of Absence)
In today’s scripture, we see the Israelites crying out, but it says nothing about them crying out to God. They are simply crying out as their hearts are far from Him. Sadly, at this time in the Exodus story the Israelites are worshipers of the gods of Egypt rather than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (See Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 23:19-20). Beguiled by the mythologies and ways of Egypt, they had long ago forsaken God. But it is when they acknowledge their suffering and they cry out that God intervenes.
When it says that God heard their groaning and remembered His covenant, it does not mean that God had ever forgotten, but the time had come for God to act.
The first step in the Exodus journey is for us to acknowledge our pain and to cry out. It means finally coming out of denial and admitting we are hurting. It is then that God can act! Louis L’Amour, writer of westerns, observed: “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” (Louis L’Amour, Lonely on the Mountain)
Now begins the Exodus story!
- Do you sense deep down there is some hurt you need to acknowledge, first to yourself, and then to God?
- Take a few moments to cry out to God about that which you might find buried deep down.