The people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help … And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant.
The promise of food had encouraged Jacob and his family to leave their famine-stricken land and relocate to Egypt with Joseph. For a time, everything was terrific. But their experience took a turn for the worse when a new king came to power. He didn’t like the idea of Israel’s people growing in stature and number, so he put them to work, ruthlessly enslaving them. Their lives were filled with tears and bitterness.
The people of God still had His promises, but those promises seemed empty. It had been easy to trust God when they were free and well-fed. It was far less easy when they were enslaved. In the long, long years of oppression, some must have said to themselves, I think that God has forgotten His promise. I am not at all sure that He is really going to do what He said. Yet despite this, they called out to God, desperately seeking rescue.
God had not forgotten, and His answer came. God heard their cry; He heard their groaning, and in response He implemented a rescue operation. God would not leave them in their misery. He was going to fulfill His purposes for His people and set them free from slavery. He “remembered his covenant”—which is not to say that His promises to Abraham had slipped His mind but that now, at exactly the right moment (though no doubt not as soon as His people would have chosen), He moved to keep His covenant to His people.
This is what God’s people need to be reminded of now, just as they did then: God hears our groaning, God knows our circumstances, and He will act. Not one of His promises will fail. Indeed, when we are at a loss for words in our distress, we discover that the Holy Spirit even intercedes for us through our prayerful groanings (Romans 8:26-27). That’s the level of God’s concern for each of us and the depth of His determination to do eternal good for His people.
When your soul’s cries seem to go unheard—when you begin to wonder if anyone truly cares—recall who God has revealed Himself to be, in Egypt and supremely in His Son:
Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely
And long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion?
My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
Keep crying out for deliverance. God hears, He cares, and He works on your behalf.
1 Civilla D. Martin, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” (1905).
Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,