Exodus is the redemptive story of the imprisoned people of God. The fact that there has to be a rescue means that there was pain and suffering. Israel experiences great pain and oppression after a new king mandates Israel’s slavery. Then, the author tells us that God heard Israel’s cries, God remembered his covenant, God saw the sons of Israel and God paid attention to them (Exodus 2:24-25). In chapter 5, Moses speaks to Pharaoh and gets the freedom ball rolling. But, there’s something in the preceding chapters that I can’t gloss over—where is God before chapter 2? What takes him so long to hear, remember, see and pay attention? What gives with all the silence? We run so quickly to the crossing of the Reed Sea and the entrance to the Promised Land, but what about all that time Israel was screaming in pain and there seemed to be no response? Every believer has to deal with the silence of God. From Job to Jesus, we all have times where we yell out until our souls are hoarse and hear nothing in return. Why wasn’t God in a rush to free Israel? What was God doing?
Tonight, my dear cousin who is battling cancer, challenged me to pray outside the box. There is a way we want the world to be and then there is the way it is. Praying outside the box means we allow the goodness of God to transcend what we think to ask for and allow him to consume our expectations with his plan. It means we see the grace that is. We don’t put demands on this grace; instead, we recognize it in whatever form it takes.
The same grace God extended a month ago is extended to me today as I sit with a child who’s convinced she’ll never walk again. God calls me to see the grace. The conversations I had with other families in the ICU, the feeding tube being removed, the insight we gained from watching “Up” 31 times, the quiet moments sans nurses… all pieces of grace.
God heard. God saw. God came down.
Moses didn’t bring about grace. Grace was already present, even in the midst of hardship. The cross didn’t bring about grace—Grace was already active in the midst of a broken world.
What was God doing? Perhaps he was moving in the hearts of Hebrew midwives so that they would fear him and not kill the Hebrew babies. Maybe we see grace in Moses’ mother building an ark or in the princess’ act of rescue and adoption. There was grace in God raising up a person to represent his heart to Israel… all of which happened before the plagues or the dramatic rescue.
We can’t put our hope in what we see God doing. We can only put our hope in who God is. The truth is, in Exodus, God is moving before Israel even knows to cry out. God is sharing grace before I even want to ask for it, but we’ll miss it if we hold too tightly to our limited expectations.
The temptation is to focus on the dramatic, but it turns out that life isn’t so dramatic most of the time. Sometimes we’re instantly healed, other days, we simply keep waking up. Life with God is built out of grace-moments. We would do well to sensitize our eyes to the movements of God in whatever form they take. Yes, Ellia is still very sick. No, we have no idea what is going on in her body. But tonight, we enjoyed the grace as we watched Ellia laugh and lick the icing off of all of our cinnamon rolls.