Does God hear the cries of the afflicted? He does. Sometimes we think God doesn’t hear, and oftentimes God’s answer takes longer than we think is reasonable. Israel waited more than 400 years in Egypt for God to hear their cries, yet God did hear and he saved them…
1 Hear my prayer, Lord;
let my cry for help come to you.
2 Do not hide your face from me
when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.
12 But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.
13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favor to her;
the appointed time has come.
18 Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
19 “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.”
27 you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
28 The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you.”
Psalm 102:1-2, 12-13, 18-20, 27-28
The prayer of the afflicted rises up to heaven. Maybe that’s been you. I know it’s been me over the years. We have our moments, and the Psalms validate our access and privilege to raise our cries to God’s ears. God is willing to listen to us and he does not change even though our circumstance does.
There are seasons of affliction and woe, and in the prayer of our affliction we ought to acknowledge and remember that God remains the same and will hear our cries. We often lack the patience and insight to wait very long, and so the 400 years of Israel in Egypt is always going to feel like forever. And that’s not only a story of antiquity.
There are refugee camps in our world in which our brothers and sisters are born, live, and die without rights, property, and earthly hope. The only life these people ever know is exile. And so waiting on God is sometimes not trivial. It is weighty and draining. It reduces strong people to skin and bones (vs. 5).
The prayer of affliction should always include hope in the eternal unchanging God. A thousand years are a day in his sight, and we will spend eternity with him after this brief time on earth. Future generations who are not even born yet will see that the Lord hears the groans of prisoners and releases those condemned to death. Our hope is always (vs. 28) that our children will live in his presence; their descendants will be established before the Lord.
Hear the cries of your people, Lord.