We don’t always know what God is doing.
(That is an understatement, but we’ll start with it anyway.)
To us it often seems that God is far removed from our problems, perhaps even that he has forgotten about us. But how far is too far, really, for God? Just as it is foolish to think that we could hide our wrongdoings from the sight of God, so it’s foolish to think that God is ever out of the picture in terms of his care for us.
In Exodus 2 we read the story of Moses running away from Egypt to Midian after committing murder. We know as we read (or if we don’t know the story, we’ll find out just a chapter later) that Moses is going to be the one to deliver the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. God has miraculously kept Moses from death by drowning, the apparent fate of many baby boys in the year of Moses’ birth. We know that he’s the vehicle for God’s deliverance, but do we realize how far away from Egypt Moses goes?
For those who need a little geographical help, Midian is a long way from Egypt.
The people in their slavery cry out to God for help. And God lets the deliverer get in trouble with the law and flee the land. Could things look any worse than this? If we notice next that God provides for Moses to find a wife and start a family in Midian, we might think so. Not only is Moses far away, he’s also settled in.
The poor Israelites are in Egypt, labouring under the whip of a cruel king. From our vantage point as readers, it looks like all hopes have been whisked away. God seems distant, the only potential deliverer is out of the country and changing diapers, and the people are suffering.
But verses 23-25 come as a wonderful piece of news. The groans of the Israelites are heard as prayers to God, who is never too far away to hear them. He always has his ears open to the prayers of his people. And even though the setting of the action has shifted to Midian, this is no mistake either. In this far away land God is preparing the vehicle of his deliverance to step in as one who fully trusts God, the only one who can really save his people.
There is no “too far” for God. When God seems to be off in another territory, we are (as always) on his mind. It may just be that he is preparing something wonderful for our future even when he seems to have drifted away in the distance.