Is The Lord Among Us or Not? – Exodus 17:7

“And [Moses] called the name of the place Massah and Meribah,
because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying,
‘Is the LORD among us or not?’”

Exodus 17:7

How often do our thoughts reflect this question, this doubt? Even having experienced the Lord’s faithfulness in the past, heard it recounted from others, seen it in Scripture, our hearts can still hold that fear, that deep wondering –

“Is the Lord among us or not?”

Within these doubts, verses such as Romans 8:31 – “If God is for us, who can be against us?” – may not resound with power for us. Because the heart question remains… Is God really for me here?

In the midst of circumstances that seem hopeless, that hover with disappointments, that threaten to shatter us, or where all we can see is closed doors… Is the Lord among us or not?

This is a painful, difficult question. And I don’t want to speak simple platitudes that seem to minimize it. My prayer is that our God – our God who is for us – would breathe His truth into us with His compassion, power, and understanding.

My heart is drawn to Psalm 102:25-27 –
“Of old You laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of Your hands.
They will perish, but You will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but You are the same, and Your years have no end.”

He is the same. Steadfast. Unending. More firmly in place than the mountains. More certain and constant than the patterns of the stars.

Maybe there’s a fear that God overlooks us sometimes. Caught up in more major details, and what is our life compared to that? Or maybe it occurs to us that perhaps God does see, but He isn’t really moved to care.

…But then I think of Jesus. Because His life shows us who God is.

And Jesus saw the children. Little children, whom his disciples tried to rebuke and usher away. Children who could easily have been missed in the crowd. Jesus saw these, and to Him they were precious. He welcomed them in without hesitation.

He saw the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, who reached to touch His cloak and was healed. Jesus was on His way to heal a dying girl, a moment in which every minute mattered to those who had summoned Him, and He stopped to see this woman. To look her in the eyes and assure her that her faith had healed her. To show her that she mattered to Him. And He did so not at the expense of the other – He easily, compassionately, faithfully saw to both circumstances.

Jesus sees you. You are not too small; you will not escape His notice.

“How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with You” (Psalm 139:17-18).

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37).

And when He sees you, His heart is moved to action.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14). “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that was lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing” (Luke 15:4-5). “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness…I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-16a).

Perhaps there are some who wonder if they are too far gone for His mercy. If His compassion is only for those whose lives are “cleaner” than their own. There is another example in Jesus’ life that speaks hope to us when we feel too tarnished, our hearts and lives and bodies too tainted by our sin or by others’ actions against us. In those moments, may we remember: Jesus saw the woman who washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. A woman whose known sin caused those with Him to recoil at her actions, appalled that He would allow it. But He saw her. And far from rebuking her, He rose to her defense:
“Turning toward the woman, He said to [the Pharisee], ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much.’…And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’” (Luke 7:44-50)

Beloved of God, may your heart find rest, knowing that He sees you, and that He cares. Ours is a compassionate Father. Who will move heaven and earth for those who are His (Psalm 18:4-19). He is for you, even in the moments when you can’t see it. Even if you can’t see Him. He knows the way that you take (Job 23:8-10). And He is covering you with His favor as with a shield (Psalm 5:12).

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