Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. 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.
Sometimes God is silent.
We wonder what the answer to our dilemma is, but He doesn’t seem to answer. We feel like our situation is defeating us, but He doesn’t rescue. We look for the right direction to turn, but all ways look the same; all ways look equally hopeless.
At these times it’s easy to draw the conclusion that God has forgotten us. He has left us. To begin to think he doesn’t care and our problems and battles are too unimportant for him.
But that’s not what he says in Isaiah 49. He says it is more likely that a mother would forget her baby nursing at her breast than that he would forget us! He declares that he has engraved us on the palms of his hands. God apparently has tattoos: us written out on the palms of his hands.
He goes on to say that our walls are ever before him. Our walls. The things that hem us in, hold us back, hinder us from living life as fully as Jesus offers it. The walls that isolate us and rob us of experiencing intimate relationship with others. The walls of pain and betrayal and rejection. God sees these walls. And he cares.
It reminds me of God’s words to Moses when calling him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. Exodus 3:7
I am sure that for many years the Israelite slaves were convinced that God had forgotten, that he had left. But he heard their cries and cared. His timing was just different than theirs. It is just different than ours.
But he sees our walls. He hears our cries. He will comfort. He will have compassion.
He won’t forget us because he has us written on his hands.
Even Jesus, when walking on the earth, knew the feeling of being left alone and abandoned. But he also knew the truth.
But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:32-33