Present in the Absence


If you’re like most of us, at some point, you have felt like God was missing. I’m not talking about the time you spilled coffee down your shirt right before a meeting or left $30 worth of perishable groceries in your trunk on a hot summer day. I’m talking about a season in which you felt abandoned; you wondered what happened to the miracles, or why God seemed so distant and unconcerned. If this is you, the book of Exodus is your book.

Reconnecting with God 

If an Old Testament book seems irrelevant to your life, take a closer look. Exodus is about the departure of the Hebrews from Egypt, but that part of the story is over by chapter 15. The bigger picture and overarching story is about God’s move from apparent absence to a tangible, undeniable presence. It’s a story about movement, both the physical movement of God’s people and the more subtle movement of God’s company.

Has God Forgotten His People?

During the first two chapters of Exodus, God appears to be conspicuously absent. There is a new king who has no regard for Joseph or the nation. The Hebrews are put under slavery and harsh oppression. Pharaoh orders the death of Hebrew children, and the list goes on.

All of this would have the Israelites wondering: Where is God? Has he abandoned his covenant with Abraham? Is he angry? I have been there too, wondering if I missed something or what I did to cause God to turn away from me.

But God wasn’t far away. God heard their cries for help. In Exodus 2:23-25, God “took note” of their groaning; a very Hebrew way of saying God is about to take action.

God is Sometimes Silent, but Never Absent

We find later that all of this took place to give way to the fulfillment of God’s promise to make the Hebrews a mighty nation. The giving of the law at Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19-24 serves as the official fulfillment of this promise. The Hebrews later build the tabernacle where God is dwelling at the end of Exodus in the midst of his people. The truth is that he was never absent at all; he was actively orchestrating events for the good of his people.

The next time you’re wondering why God’s gone radio silent on you, remember the Hebrews. I want God to dwell in the midst of my life. I want to be smack dab in the middle of whatever he is planning, even if it means I don’t understand it.

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