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  • Writer's pictureWill Stockdale

Our God Sees Our Suffering

To be seen is to be known.

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings” --Exodus 3:7

In times of suffering, isolation can often amplify our anguish. In undergoing the sorrow of loss we want to know that we are not alone. We hope that our pain is recognized and received in compassion. So strongly is this the case, that without this element of care we might grow despondent. At a deeply felt and emotional level, we know we need to be seen.

It is hard if not totally impossible to find the adequate words to describe the evil that took place yesterday at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. In an unspeakable act of violence the lives of three students and three adults were taken. One can hardly imagine the pain and anguish of the parents, teachers, and community. Our hearts and prayers go out–Oh God, be with them!

In moments like these those of us at a distance wonder what we should say. We struggle in our search for the right words. We attempt, but are unable to make any sense of it. We question if there are actions we ought to undertake and things we should do. Perhaps it is a mercy that there is no playbook for such a time as this. But it is undoubtedly for our good to consider the words of God in Exodus 3:7: “I have surely seen the affliction of my people…” The Bible tells us that God sees us in our hurt, and doesn’t turn away.

God’s seeing is not like our seeing. For us, seeing and action are separate from each other and the former does not always lead to the latter. This is not so with God. As it is with his words of creative utterance, so it is with his powerful seeing. To be seen by God is to know that he is not only looking at you, but looking after you.

Surely it was this characteristic of God that comforted Hagar in Genesis 16. Cast out, alone, and in the face of great suffering she cried, “You are a God who sees me.” When no one else was near, God saw Hagar in her condition and proceeded to provide for her.

To be seen by God is to be known by him. Known by name and known by heart. Known in our greatest joys and deepest sorrows. Known and cared for exactly as we need.

This is a truth God’s children can always be sure of, because of what God’s Son underwent on the cross. Because the Father turned his face away from his Son who endured the wrath of just punishment for sin, his children will forever know that the face of their Father is towards them.

This may not offer immediate comfort, but let us remember that God is near the brokenhearted, that he bottles up our tears, and that he sees the suffering of his people. May this remembering draw us deeper into the heart of the Father.

How great the pain of searing loss

The Father turns his face away

As wounds which mar the Chosen One

Bring many sons to glory

How deep the Father’s love for us

How vast beyond all measure

Oh Father, we pray for our neighbors in Nashville, Tennessee. We cannot imagine the pain and hurt they are feeling at this moment. We pray for the parents and siblings, the students and teachers at Covenant School. Oh God, draw them close to your heart.

We pray for the congregation affiliated with this school, Covenant Presbyterian Church. We pray that they will be the hands and feet of your Son. We ask that you would supernaturally fill the pastors to care for the people in need.

We ask that your Spirit would fill the homes of every family affected. May they know that you are the God who sees.

We ask these things in the name of your Son,


Rev. Will Stockdale is Ministry to State's Director of D.C. ministry.


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