But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:14-16
One of my neighbors was laid off work this week. I imagine that this may be a snowball of needs in the short-term that we will, as church, have an opportunity to minister to.
In times like this, when the threat of sickness or financial shortfall hangs over us, it is tempting to think the Lord has forgotten us. After all, if God is good and all powerful and really cares about us, why is this happening to us at all?
Know that this is something many people, in every generation and every imaginable difficulty also experienced. This is an all too common experience of life in a fallen world.
But the picture of a forgetful God is very different from the picture Isaiah paints for us. God responds to the question by comparing himself to a nursing mom. Any nursing mom knows that it is impossible to forget her infant as she is living through the short cycle of feed-wake-sleep every two hours of her day. Her days and nights are dominated by the needs of her baby. Her attention is attuned to the hunger, joy, and discomfort of her daughter or son.
God goes further by holding out his hands, saying, “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” The word that he uses originally captured the carving of words into stone. This was often associated with the decree of a king or someone in authority. In this way, the word came to be used of authoritative writing which portrayed the will of a decree. The spoken decree was now set down permanently in writing, to be set before the king as a reminder, so that the king might be sure to follow through on what he had said.
But here, God has not engraved his decree on paper or even stone, but on his own hands. And what is the content of the decree? “Behold,” he says, “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” God has created you and now, it is as if God has tattooed your name on the palms of his hands, that your name might be continually before him.
It was with this kind of love, this kind of mindfulness, that Jesus went to the cross. As he was laid down upon the wooden structure, it is easy to imagine the cold ring of the hammer striking the spikes, as those nails were driven into the palms of his own hands. This was a demonstration, a dramatic portrayal, by our God who has not forgotten us. He is sure to follow through on what he has said.
As we are spending more time than we would like inside the walls of our houses, let’s remember God’s commitment to remembering us. God remembers you and your family. Let’s also remember the needs of those in our church and our communities that may be easy to forget in view of our own needs and concerns in these days. Let’s pray for families who are losing financial income. Let’s pray for nurses and doctors who are daily serving many needs, laying their own needs aside for the greater good.