The fundamental paradox that exists for us as finite human beings with short life spans is, “As one of billions living and as one of trillions that have lived… how important am I to a God who is bigger than space and time but claims that I am His child?”
I’m not great with dates. I think we all have something that for some reason never really solidifies in our memories. Durning my academic career my history professors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my brain. In history class, I could tell you what happened, who it happened to, why it happened, how it happened, and where it happened… but I could never remember WHEN it happened. Just like how I know I have three meetings lined up next week, but I have only a vague idea of when these very important meetings will occur. If I don’t enter the dates and times into my digital calendar with a notification… there is not a snowball’s chance in hell I will remember when I’m supposed to show up.
Now… my inability to remember dates and times is not a reflection on the importance I place on these events. Each time I have to validate my identify and someone asks me my birth date or how old I am… I actually have to consciously make an effort to find that piece of information in my memory and format it correctly to report it.
So when I don’t remember your birthday or a meeting we were suppose to have, I hope you find it just another quirky lovable thing about me… Lucas doesn’t do dates.
The unfortunate thing I was reflecting on this week is that I believe this is a widely held way we see God. He is a kind old man with His snowy white beard and He is busy with managing a lot of things and He has got a lot on His mind and He is brilliant but sometimes He forgets about us and bad things happen. And it is not God’s fault that bad thing happened… He just forgot. That’s just our quirky God, that sometimes forgets about us little humans and an earthquake kills hundreds of people… but God can’t be troubled with every little thing. He is too big. DON’T STOP PRAYING! God wants you on His request-line to tell him about your day and grant your every wish for a sale at Hobby Lobby and a close parking spot at the grocery store. If you can keep His attention it’s like having a genie in a bottle, but then He might forget about you and boom! You have cancer. That’s just the breaks with our quirky, forgetful but lovable God.
God has not forgotten and will never forget you. Ever.
The Israelites thought God had misplaced them. In 740 B.C. the 10 Northern Tribes of Israel began their end as a nation. The Assyrian kings began a campaign of seizing and sacking city after city. They tore down gods, deported people, and looted the entire nation. And I’m sure people were heard crying, “YHWH has forgotten us! Why is God letting this happen?” That’s what we do right? God either has to be the direct cause or He is asleep at the wheel. Hurricanes, tsunamis, tornados, floods, terrorist attacks… God is punishing us because we abort babies, or God was busy with the revival in South Korea and has a problem multitasking… take your pick.
When Hezekiah (the king of the southern kingdoms of Judah) is confronted with the same opponent, he is visited by the current prophets Isaiah and Micah. They bring the word of the Lord and remind Hezekiah that God exists outside of time. They say, “Don’t you remember that the Lord has already prophesied that this would happen? God hasn’t forgotten. In fact, He predicted this. God told you if you reject Him then His hand of protection would be withdrawn.” Those are some natural consequences that would make Love and Logic believers proud. God didn’t choose it. Israel did. God’s people did. We did. We do.
In fact, the King of Assyria sends Hezekiah a message that says, “You should’t fight me. You should accept your fate. Don’t believe God will save you. God is using me to punish you. God sent me to oppress you.” What is God’s reaction to this proclamation? He doesn’t say, “Yep. I’m using him to teach you a lesson.” God is outraged by the insinuation and kills 185,000 Assyrians that night.
For this siege and the coming conquest of the Babylonians, Isaiah the prophet delivers these words to Judah from the lips of God.
Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins. Soon your descendants will come back, and all who are trying to destroy you will go away.
We live in a world of sin, disaster, oppression, and poor taste. We live in the consequences of sin. We live with a God who’s message is, “Return to me. Remain in me. Run to me. Trust in me.” His message is not that we don’t have to live with our consequences… but that He will return for us, remain with us, seek us out and honor our faith.
He has done more than tie a string around His finger. The actual words used means that He has carved, engraved, tattooed our names on His palms. God has not forgotten us. He has not forgotten you.