Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act. –Exodus 2:23-25, NLT
“Years passed.” The words imply a slow pace that can truly discourage. When someone suffers, even the passage of weeks, days, or hours can seem like an eternity. Suffering inspires a desire for things to happen, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, with “the fierce urgency of now.”
Dr. King pronounced that famous phrase in the 1960s, when the cause of civil rights in the USA had come to its moment. He knew prophetically that God had heard the groaning of the African-American people and that the “time to act” had arrived. That moment had cost the passage many years, decades and even centuries. But when it came, nothing could stop it.
The ancient Hebrews as well as modern African-Americans had been slaves in a far-away land, and their cry for justice had continued for many years. In the case of many immigrants, another kind of opression plagues them. Many have suffered in their own lands and contemplate migration to escape from their plight. Others have already migrated and suffer inequality in their new land. Nevertheless, all migrants know suffering, and in the majority of cases, the suffering has happened over the course of years.
Whatever your situation, the word of God remains the same. A “time to act” will come, in which God will wield divine power on behalf of the oppressed. For us, every moment may carry the “fierce urgency of now.” But God sees time through a different lens, in the light of the divine purposes for the lives of those who maintain their faith in God.
If you “groan under the burden” of your circumstances, remember that the situation developed over time, and its resolution may take time. God has in store a beginning and an end. God has plans for us—“plans for good and not for for disaster, to give [us] a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT). For those who trust in God, “a time to act” will come. When the Mighty One of Israel decides to act, no one can stop it.
Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. He is the author of Your Deepest Dream: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life y The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus. Follow him on Twitter @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.