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, ESV)
In exile, in broken covenant and failed expectations, in losing the temple and divine presence Israel feels lost, hopeless, and broken.
“Are we still God’s people?”
“Is our story over?”
“Have we blown it and lost our temple, our land, our heritage, our God!?”
I can only imagine the pain, the desperation, the hopelessness of the Jewish people being carried into exile, losing everything that was central, holy, and sacred.
Have you ever “blown it”? Made mistakes that devastated a relationship in your life? Have you ever damaged a relationship to the point of no return? Maybe through infidelity, gossip, or betrayal; wishing you could take it back, realizing you lost what you had treasured most, dreaming of the chance to go back in time and take it all back. This was the pain and guilt of exiled Israel.
Yet, God says through the prophet that He has not forgotten them, that He has more compassion for them than a mother for her child, that Israel is engraved on His hands to never be forgotten.
This is good news.
God’s mercy conquers our foolishness. God’s covenant faithfulness outlasts our infidelity. His hope trumps our hopelessness. This has never been clearer than when this love personified itself in the selfless, faithful love of Messiah. When up against God’s love, nothing else comes close to overcoming it.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39, ESV)