Have you ever been hurt? I bet I already know the answer—it’s a resounding yes. We’ve all been through something difficult or walked with someone who has. We walk through wilderness seasons—of loss or setback—and wonder where God is and what we are supposed to do about it?
In difficult seasons, there are some powerful truths about God that can give us courage. Let’s take a look at some words from Exodus chapter three, about God’s visit with Moses.
“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up. When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard their crying out because of their slave drivers and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians …. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.” - Exodus 3:2-8,10
1. In times of hardship, we can know that is that God is near.
Note in the Exodus passage above how many times something about seeing or sight is mentioned. We see the words appeared, saw, see, sight, look, have seen over and over again. Even the word concerned is actually a Hebrew word meaning “perceived or seen.” The point is this: we have a God who sees when we suffer.
Beyond that—notice in the passage above, some of the other senses that are mentioned; God speaks to Moses. God hears the cries of his people.
Why am I telling you all of this?
While it is incredibly meaningful and powerful that God can set a bush on fire without it actually burning up—the other thing we’re seeing—which is equally as profound—is that we have a God who listens, a God who speaks, a God who comes down, and a God who shows up.
What kind of God do we have? This seems to be the central question of Exodus 3. Moses is not a meeting a God sitting up in some distant place, far removed from his people. As Theologian Marva Dawn writes, “This is not a God who sits up in heaven arbitrarily choosing to keep us in the dark. This is not a God who hides his presence or his purposes from his people in order to make us live out some cosmic guessing game."
Exodus three reveals that we have a God who draws near. Even when we are wandering, even when we are far from where we should be, even when we are sinners and criminals and orphans like Moses was—our God is close. As Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close the broken hearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit.”
When we are hurting, we can take comfort in the fact that we have a loving God, who sees and hears the cries of our hearts. He is not a passive, distant God, but an incarnate, with us, Emmanuel God. Take heart, sister, in whatever trial you face. God is right there with you, fighting for you.
2. In times of hardship, we can also know that God invites us to be on mission for him.
Look again at the Exodus passage above. Note the two “So” statements; “So I have come down to rescue them.” and “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.”
This is an amazing moment in the story of the burning bush. Did we just read what we thought we read? Because God seems to be saying two opposing things—I am going to rescue my people; you go rescue them.
Here’s what I love about Exodus 3. While this story points to Jesus - the greater Moses, it’s also a story pointing to his people – you! See, God could have enacted his will upon Pharaoh all by himself. But God invites Moses to be the primary vehicle for his in-breaking Kingdom work.
Here’s the point. God never meets us in our difficult seasons solely for our singular sake. God’s redemptive work in our personal lives is always meant to benefit someone else. God’s mission of rescue, of freedom, his work of setting captives free, his hope, his justice, and his healing are all meant to be expressed through the means of his people—again, that’s you!
In fact, if you are a follower of Jesus- no matter how old you are, you have been empowered, equipped, and unleashed by his Spirit to be ministers of the gospel to a world that desperately needs it.
See, a lot of times in our pain, we ask those very raw, human questions like, “Why isn’t God stopping my suffering? Why isn’t God changing this scenario? “
Perhaps the questions we should be asking are, “God, what do you want us, your daughters, to do? Where do you want us to go? Show us where to go, show us what to do. So that the world will know that you are a God who is near to the brokenhearted.”
If you’ve ever been hurt, consider that an invitation—to know God’s nearness and to know his calling on your life. God is near and God is calling you on mission for him. So don’t let these seasons hold you back. Instead—go.
Aubrey Sampson is the author of Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding Your Soul (Zondervan) and an upcoming book on lament and hope with NavPress. She and her husband Kevin, and their three young sons, planted Renewal Church in the Chicagoland area, where Aubrey serves on the preaching team. Aubrey is part of the Propel Cohort at Wheaton College and travels around the country speaking and preaching at a variety of churches. Find and follow Aubrey on Instagram, Facebook, and her website.