Jill Carattini captures the feeling behind the question, “Where is God?” in her recent article, “God and Injustice”:
In the face of injustice, silence can be oppressive, filled at once with despairing questions. Where is God? What of the silent victims? Who will speak over the deafening sounds of injustice, over the word games and manipulative arguments, when hands are tied, options are exhausted, and fates seem irreversible?
God’s actions are often hidden from sight. The book of Exodus begins with God’s people suffering in Egypt. God’s people, the children of Israel, had grown in number, and the Egyptians began to fear this large population. A new pharaoh had ascended the throne. This pharaoh “ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field” (Exod. 1:13—14).
Pharaoh then established a law for population control. He said, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live” (Exod. 1:16). The Hebrew midwives, fearing God, refused to obey the pharaoh and let the boys live.
When Pharaoh questioned them about this, they gave an excuse: “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them” (Exodus 1:19).
God is absent from the scene until near the end of the chapter where Scripture states, “So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families” (Exod. 1:20—21). Still, years would go by before God would save his people.
God is working. So much about Exodus 1 captures what life is like. We wonder where God is. We wonder if he cares or hears. Sometimes we wait a long time. Yet the whole time, God works behind the scenes.
It took more than a generation for God to save his people from Egyptian oppression. It took generations before he established Israel’s king. It took generations for God to exile Israel from the land because of their idolatry. It took generations for him to answer the prayers of the exiles and return them to Israel. It took generations for Christ to come, die, and rise for the forgiveness of sins. And now, after two millennia, we still wait for Christ’s return in glory and our day of resurrection.
God works behind the scenes for our good and our salvation. He is not silent. God speaks through Scripture. He is not absent. God gives us bread and wine in Holy Communion to remind us of his promises. And he has given us the Holy Spirit to keep us until the day of resurrection.