Daily D – Isaiah 49:14-16
Isaiah 49:14-16 Zion says, “The LORD has abandoned me; the Lord has forgotten me!” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you. Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. (CSB)
Painful, sorrow-filled conversations remind us of these prophetic words spoken to an exiled people. They are applicable in every generation. Pretty much every person I know has experienced what he or she considered abandonment pain. This is no ordinary abandonment pain like an absent father or a distant mother. This is the pain of a heart left wondering if God even remembers he or she is alive and in need of attention.
This sense of loss is amplified at Christmas. In this season when so much attention is directed toward the giving of gifts, there are some who feel they are completely cut off from the Giver of All Good Things. He of whom it is said knows the number of hairs on our heads has somehow allowed us to slip his mind.
Here is God’s response to our isolated hearts and our sorrowful souls:
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible,
I would not forget you!
See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruin.
(New Living Translation)
These are good words, strong words, wonderful words of life. These are words to hold fast in our hearts because we will need them one day. We will need them for others. We may well need them for ourselves. I have needed them. You have as well, no doubt.
In seasons where these words apply, it is good to remember how utterly dependent we are on God our Father who provides for us like a loving, attentive nursing mother. We cannot make it without him. He will never require that we do. More than names tattooed on his arms, our names permanently are cut into his hands. There is a good chance this makes you think of Jesus on the cross. There is a good reason to do so.
Do you remember Jesus’ encounter with Thomas who had missed the first resurrection appearance and who said he would not believe it until he saw “the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails”? (See John 20:25.)
A week later, Thomas was there when Jesus appeared again (John 20:26). Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands,” (verse 27). Thomas saw and believed. He exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (verse 28).
God keeps all his promises. You are forever on his mind and in his care. This day, these days, may be hard and harsh. Even so, we can live in the confidence of God’s eternal love and care. By faith in what he has said and what he has proved throughout history, we can lean into the reality of this day and the days to come in the settled trust that his final word on the matters of our hearts will always be good.
We desperately need God every moment. He joyfully fills every space he is welcomed into. Invite him into your pain and suffering. Know him, experience him here in this hurt. Receive his provision and comfort. One day that comfort will serve others who likewise then need what you need now (2 Corinthians 1:1-11).
I will invite God into my feelings of abandonment.
Our Father, those dark days years ago made me feel completely lost. I did not know what I should do or could do. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I felt so alone. It is only in looking back that I can see what I could not behold looking forward. You were there working out the details. You were there providing precisely what was needed exactly when it was needed. It was there you taught me to always expect your loving best whatever comes my way. Empower me to join you in providing that comfort to those who need it now. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”