I’m reading through the Bible once again this year, and this time I’ve been struck by how many stories there are in which God, as a character, is absent. There are years and sometimes decades in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and others where it seems as if God is distant, if not absent. This apparent absence becomes even more noticeable in the early chapters of Exodus, where we learn that the Israelites have been made slaves and their male children made victims of attempted genocide. According to the Biblical narrative, this oppression has been going on not just for years, and not just for decades, but for centuries. Four centuries, actually. The Israelites certainly would have been justified to question God’s presence or power or care for them. Just when it seems as though all hope is lost, the narrator pulls back the curtain and reveals something important:

God heard their moaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God saw the Israelites, and God knew.

Exodus 2:24-25, Robert Alter’s Hebrew Bible, empahsis added

God heard.
God remembered.
God saw.
God knew.
And, when the time was right, God acted, God rescued, God redeemed, and God restored.

This is a recurring theme throughout the scriptures. In retrospect, it’s easy to see the Exodus story as a precursor to the Jesus story, in which, as the Apostle Paul says,

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son…

Galatians 4:4, NRSV

The ministry of Jesus reveals a God who sees, a God who cares, and a God who acts decisively to rescue, to heal, to redeem, and to restore.


There are still times and seasons when it seems like God is distant or like God is absent. I find comfort in the reminder that even in those times,

God hears.
God remembers.
God sees.
God knows.
And, when the time is right, God WILL act, God WILL rescue, God WILL redeem, and God WILL fully restore all that has been lost.

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