Seen. Heard. Known.
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,
Let’s set the scene: Moses is on the run from killing an Egyptian man. He’s been herding sheep with the Midianite people for years now and one day he comes across a burning bush…that isn’t burning. Then, to make things more normal, the non-burning, burning bush starts talking. And this voice is the actual voice of God. Now, Moses was born in Egypt, given away in an actual “Go with God” moment on the Nile River, and then raised coincidentally by his own mother unbeknownst to the Egyptians. He kills a man in Egypt, Pharaoh goes after him and he runs to Midian. He marries a Midianite woman and starts a family. Moses seems to just want to live to normal, Hebrew/Egyptian dream: 40 sheep and few mules
But now he is staring at bush that is on fire, yet not consumed, and this bush says it’s the voice of God. Moses may not even remember which God this actually is, so God introduces Himself:
And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (v. 6)
God confirms to Moses that He is indeed the God of the Hebrews, the God of Moses’ forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. After confirming who He is, He then states His intent:
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, 8 and 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, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (v. 7-10)
This verse, the story of Moses overall, is full of incredible insight into the characteristics and nature of God. But the one – or three – I want to focus on is found in verse 7. God says He sees the people, He hears their cries and He knows their suffering.
The Israelites had been in slavery for about 420 years now. They suffered the genocide of their baby boys, the harshness of fearful and prideful Pharaoh, and the degrading, dignity-stripping nature of chattel slavery. And God saw it. And God heard it. And God knew it.
One of the most difficult aspects of suffering is feeling alone. You can be surrounded by seas of audiences, family and friends. Yet suffering has a way of making you feel isolated in a crowded room. It has a way of slowing down time and making you feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t matter.
And yet we see here, for the people of God, that our suffering is never “not seen”; that our cries are never “not heard”. And that our afflictions are never “not known”. We serve, worship, are pursued and loved by a God Who sees us, Who hears us, and Who knows what we are going through.
This naturally begs the questions, “If God sees, hears, and knows, why doesn’t He stop?” I can’t always answer that question with a specific answer. I’m not sure why we allows the type of suffering He allows or why He allows it for the time He does. But what do I know is that it is only in Him that suffering is redeemed. Only in Christ, the Son of God, does suffering find redemption. It is only in Him that all things work together for our good. It is only in Him that we have plans for a future and a hope. It is only in Him that the promises of God find their “yes”. It is only in Him that what was meant for evil turns for good. And it is only in him that the ultimate suffering, the event of being born far and an enemy of God, finds it correction. The blood of Jesus saves us in our suffering, not always from it.
Here at Clean Ears and at the Collective, this is the message we want you to hear from us: You are seen, you are heard, and you are known. First and most importantly by God, then by us. We hope that this year, and years to come, you feel those when we read a post or listen to a podcast. We may not know you by name, but our God does. We cannot change your circumstances, but our God can. And we cannot sustain you in your season, your wilderness or your valley; but our God can and will.