Sometimes we forget the most basic things. This past week I was so busy getting ready for Classis and traveling to Thunder Bay for the pulpit exchange that I forgot to update the blog with the liturgy.
We are creatures of habit to be sure and those habits ingrain themselves into our minds so that we remember what we are to do, even if we have been doing it for years. Why then do we forget? Because we are weak, our minds are subject to the fall of Adam, and we are simply too busy with so many things that we cannot successfully ‘juggle’ all the information and events that occupy our thoughts.
We may be thankful, however, that God does not forget. Isaiah begins the 49th chapter of his prophecy with some stirring and encouraging words from the LORD. In particular God speaks through His servant to the people of Israel and tells them that He has comforted His people and has mercy on the afflicted. Jerusalem, or Zion, replies in haste: “‘The LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.'”
Though the book of Isaiah was written in the days of “Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah” (Isaiah 1:1) many of the promises and warnings are also intended for future generations. And so in the days of the exiles (to Assyria, Babylon and later Persia) these words of doubt and despair in Isaiah 49:14 would certainly have carried much force as God’s people awaited the return to the promised land.
God replies in the following verses however by saying: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.” (vs. 15,16) The relationship between God and His children is such that he is like a mother with child, holding and protecting them in the midst of trial. As children leave home, they might forget a birthday or an anniversary. They may not call for many weeks, months or even years. But a faithful mother or father never forgets to pray for them and be concerned for their well being.
So God never forgets us. It is true that we often think He does, just like Zion of old. And it is true that we sometimes think that because life’s circumstances seem more real and powerful than God’s presence. But then we hear that word again and remember that God is faithful to a thousand generations. We hear from Isaiah that He has inscribed us on the palm of His hand. As God’s people we are deeply ingrained in His mind and in His thoughts.
Yes Christ would bear the shame and humiliation of the elect people hundreds of years in the future, even having His own flesh scarred and marred, bearing our griefs, carrying our sorrows, even stricken, smitten and afflicted by God. For “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)
So if I should forget, if I cannot remember, I will in faith call to mind that my God does not forget me. If my mind should fail, even if my body should die, I will continue to believe that my body will be brought back to life by my Lord and Saviour upon that day when He returns again to judge the living and the dead. Yes, He cannot forget me because He cannot forget Himself. For whoever “eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:56)