October 24, 2017 • Life for Leaders
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.”
Has it ever seemed to you as if God has forgotten you? Even if you know, in principle, that God will never forget you, even if you believe this, at least to an extent, you may have gone through seasons of life when it really felt as if God had forgotten you. Maybe you’re in such a time of life right now.
If you have ever felt abandoned by God, then you can relate to how Israel felt during extended seasons of her life. As the people of God suffered for their persistent rebellion against the Lord, and as Jerusalem was left in ruins after the Babylonian invasion, how tempting it was for the people to say, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me” (49:14).
Yet such was not the case. In Israel’s time of despair, the Lord brought comforting words. Comparing himself to a nursing mother who cannot forget her own baby, the Lord reassured his people. He had not forgotten them. Indeed, he said he had their name inscribed on his hand as a permanent reminder (49:16). God would never forget them.
When we go through seasons of suffering, it can seem as if God has forgotten us. We cry out to God in our prayers, but they seem to echo unheard in an empty universe. We look for signs of God’s grace, but we just can’t find them. In these times, we hold on tight to the promises of Scripture. Even as God promised never to forget Israel, so Jesus said that he would be with us always (Matt 28:20). Through Christ, we believe that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39). So, when it seems as if God has deserted us, we find solace and encouragement in the sure word of Scripture. Even as a mother cannot forget her own child, so God will never forget us. Thanks be to God!
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Have there been times in your life when it seemed as if God had forgotten you?
If so, how did you feel in those times? What did you do? Where did you find reassurance?
What helps you to know that God is with you, even in hard times?
Gracious God, thank you for this reassuring word to Israel… and to us. You know how hard it is for us when you seem far away. We know you have your reasons for making yourself less obvious to us, even and especially when we suffer. But it is tough to be on the receiving end of this treatment.
So, thank you for this passage of Scripture and so many others like it. Thank you for this word of comfort and hope. Thank you for the rock-solid fact that you will not forget us, that nothing can separate us from your love.
Today, Lord, I pray for those who are feeling distant from you, for those who are caught in despair. May they find reassurance in your Word. May your Spirit stir in their hearts so that they know you have not forgotten them… and never will. Amen.
Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.