I help people with social media for a living, so part of my job is being aware of the cultural trends and themes that come and go on the internet, specifically on social media platforms. In both December 2016 and December 2017, one trend was difficult to miss, no matter your social media platform preference.
At the end of 2016 and 2017, it was trendy to lament the last year as if the last year was the worst year any of us had ever seen—no matter the personal experiences we had. All the cool kids did it. Along with this trendy lamenting, there was hope that the next year would bring some sort of reprieve. The collective groaning of people online longed for salvation in the turning of a page on the calendar. Perhaps the next year would be less oppressive.
When the Israelites were in captivity in Egypt, they groaned under the weight of the slavery and oppression they were forced to endure. They had nowhere to turn. There was no escape from their life of bondage and suffering—no hope of pushing back against the injustices they experienced at the hands of the Egyptian people. So they lamented. “The Israelites groaned because of their difficult labor; and they cried out; and their cry for help because of the difficult labor ascended to God” (Exodus 2:23).
The Hebrews cried out to God because they knew they had no possible means of salvation among themselves. God’s people were aware of the promises He’d made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they wondered how their present circumstances could have any role to play in the fulfillment of God’s covenant.
The Israelites cries for help did not fall on deaf ears. “God heard their groaning; and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob; and God saw the Israelites; and God knew” (vv. 24-25).
God eventually led the people out of Egypt by His servant Moses, and in Christ, He leads us out of sin and death and into the promised land of eternal life in His presence. The season of Lent reminds us that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the establishment of God’s new covenant with His people, His Church.
Yet, though we have been saved, we suffer. We lament. We groan.
And God hears our lamenting. God hears our groaning. God knows.
But our groaning must not seek salvation in a new year, a fresh relationship, or a job promotion. Our groaning must find its hope in the promises of God alone—fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His Son.
Written by Chris Martin