So much of childhood is wrapped up in our search for belonging. We want to belong in our families, from the oldest trying to please and excel to the middle child vying for attention, trying not to fade into the wallpaper, and the youngest putting out sparks of humor and zest to liven up the party. These are sweeping generalizations but at least they’re research-based generalizations, right? You or I may not “fit” the mold, but one thing our birth order tells us is that we all want to belong. We want to fit, even when we are trying ever so hard to be rogue. Developmentally, our parents approval meant the world to us growing up, even if they were MIA. Our siblings opinions also mattered, whether they understood it or not. Our teachers and peers and youth leaders, we wanted them to see us. We didn’t want to be forgettable. Who wants forgotten. We want to belong and to be remembered. It’s why infants cry to alert us to needs, preschoolers ask for bandaids every 47 seconds, and teenagers try out new outfits and attitudes daily. Even as adults we make drama where there’s peace, we try to buy the very best and newest stuff, and we add friend after friend to our Facebook feed…the task of being unforgettable is exhausting.
Today we find out the Jesus-truth on this matter.
We are never forgettable.
Open your Bibles to Isaiah 49:13-17 or read below.
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted.
14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “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.
16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
17 Your builders make haste;
your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you.
He can not forget. All this vying for attention in life is really a search for the One who can not forget us, even if He tried. The questions God asks of Israel here are hard,
“Can a woman forget her nursing child?” (v.15)
Some of us may say, “No, of course not!” Others of us may say, “My mom did.”
Can you see how life complicates our ability to see Truth? Maybe this knowledge can give us compassion for those who still wrestle and are disconnected to church or Faith.
God understands this complication. Listen again to the next Words from Isaiah 49:15 –
“Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”
God further drives home His promise in verse 16 –
“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…”
God makes promises to the city, but you better believe that each of the residents of those walls heard the promise in it for their own lives. When siege laid waste and Babylon breaks through the city walls, terror and fear struck every heart and every family. Their city was destroyed, the temple, God’s dwelling place among them, destroyed. Each of those people needed to know, “I am not forgotten. My God is with me.” He was giving them something better – Redemption.
And He wrote the promise on His hands.
On His hands, He engraved our names, the name of His Church, His people. How could he forget?
Turn to Isaiah 63:9-16. Feel free to start at verse 7 if you have your Scriptures open.
In all their affliction he was afflicted,
and the angel of his presence saved them;
in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
10 But they rebelled
and grieved his Holy Spirit;
therefore he turned to be their enemy,
and himself fought against them.
11 Then he remembered the days of old,
of Moses and his people.
Where is he who brought them up out of the sea
with the shepherds of his flock?
Where is he who put in the midst of them
his Holy Spirit,
12 who caused his glorious arm
to go at the right hand of Moses,
who divided the waters before them
to make for himself an everlasting name,
who led them through the depths?
Like a horse in the desert,
they did not stumble.
14 Like livestock that go down into the valley,
the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest.
So you led your people,
to make for yourself a glorious name.
Look down from heaven and see,
from your holy and beautiful habitation.
Where are your zeal and your might?
The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion
are held back from me.
16 For you are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us,
and Israel does not acknowledge us;
you, O Lord, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
Even when others fail to acknowledge us, God in Trinity remembers us.
Look back at the passage and look for the work of each member of the Trinity in our Redemption. I’ll highlight my vantage point below.
“You are our Father…”
There’s that familial language again. We need not look any further than to Our Father in Heaven to acknowledge us, to recognize us, to see us. As children and as adults we are not forgotten.
“In all their affliction, he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them…”
The Angel of the Lord is believed by Old Testament scholars to speak of God’s son before His incarnation. This is Jesus, plain and simple. He was afflicted for us. He saves us. He loves us. He looks upon us and redeems us.
“Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit…”
God placed the Holy Spirit into our midst, into each of us. The Spirit’s work is connected to remembrance. The Spirit isn’t just for our remembrance of God, but His remembrance of us. God sees us through His Spirit now, in Jesus Christ. We are remembered as faithful children because of the Spirit’s faithfulness in us. We might grieve the Holy Spirit by our rebellion (v. 10), but that alone is a promise. God sees our rebellion because He sees us. Only in having our rebellion, our sin laid bare, can redemption enter in. Thank you, Holy Spirit for seeing all of me – and loving me anyway!
Great are His promises. Aren’t they remarkable? We are not forgotten. No matter what this life and this world may hold, our Redeemer of Old is bigger, is greater, is more steadfast. We want to leave a lasting mark in this life, we want to be remembered, and we do it in the only place that matters – on God’s hand – engraved on His hands and held by His Spirit.
You are not forgotten.
Sometimes I think we speak of the Trinity in vagueness, because it is a slightly vague and complex idea to us. Which person of the Trinity gives you comfort today – Father, Son, or Holy Spirit?
Who can you share the message of not forgotten with?