Zion said, The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me. Christ says: 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. (Isaiah 49:14-16)
Fear of Being Forgotten
Isaiah’s words remind me of Athazagoraphobia, the fear of forgetting or fear of being forgotten or ignored. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can dread forgetting their own identity and other important things. Also the spouses or caregivers of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can be afraid that their loved ones will not recognize them. Children can also have this fear if they are left alone or been ignored for long periods of time.
None of us wants to be forgotten after we die. Psalm 103:15-16 says, “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) stated in Walden that most people “lead lives of quiet desperation.” Thoreau thinks that we feel a void in our lives and try to fill it with fame, fortune, fun, and comfort, but these things don’t make us happy in any lasting way. Scripture says that God our Creator has set eternity in human hearts.1 He has made us for Himself and our hearts are restless until we rest in Him.2
Thank God, Christ still bridges the gap between Himself and our lost and dying world. He doesn’t forget us and write us off. Jesus’ death has been accepted as an expiation for sin, of infinite value and efficiency. The Savior blots out and removes our wrong, restoring our fellowship with God. And Christ orders us to announce to all people that His Father is reconciled and ready to forgive, so that whosoever will may turn to Him and live. What a gracious, merciful, and peace-giving Lord we have!3
Christ Ruling the Universe from His Throne Is Our Only Hope
Now Jesus is risen and reigning in Heaven until He has put all His enemies under His feet.4 After He had provided purification for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.5 In the Book of Revelation, Christ is described as the Lion of Judah and also the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus is the High Priest and Perfect Sacrifice at the same time.6 Christ is called the Lamb twenty eight times in Revelation. The church of God was bought with Jesus’ own blood.7 His death and resurrection continue to be the only way we have access to God and life. Human history and destiny are wrapped up with Christ and His Kingdom (His eternal empire).
You may feel abandoned and orphaned sometimes, Christian. But Jesus says: I love you and laid down my life for you. I love you right now, and pray for you, and I will help you all through this life. And I love you so much that I will come back again for you to take you home with me. I am your blessed hope.
We Remember Christ Remembering Us
Jesus has given His creation so that we remember Him, our Maker. And He’s given us the Lord’s Day (Sunday) to recall and celebrate His resurrection the first day of each new week. Christ has also given us the Lord’s Supper (Communion) so that “whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”8 Jesus will not forget us who are His followers. Isaiah says: He has engraved us on the palms of His nail-pierced hands. Several hymn writers pick up on Isaiah’s words, seen in light of Christ’s New Testament fulfillment.
Charles Wesley (1707–1788) was an English leader of the Methodist movement and penned about 6,500 hymns. One of my favorites is “Arise, My Soul, Arise.”
1. Arise, my soul, arise, Shake off thy guilty fears:
The bleeding Sacrifice In my behalf appears:
Before the Throne my Surety stands, My name is written on His hands.
2. He ever lives above, For me to intercede,
His all-redeeming love, His precious blood to plead;
His blood atoned for every race, And sprinkles now the throne of grace.
3. Five bleeding wounds He bears, Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers, They strongly plead for me;
Forgive them, O forgive, they cry, Nor let that ransomed sinner die!
4. My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child, I can no longer fear;
With confidence I now draw nigh, And “Father, Abba, Father!” cry.
Wesley alludes to many Scriptures in this hymn, including Isaiah 49:16. Two others jump out to me. Hebrews 7:25 says that Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for us. And 1 John 2:1-2 says that if Christ’s followers sin, we have an advocate (defense attorney) with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Christ will never forget you, beloved. Read the Scriptures, asking the Holy Spirit to help you trust and obey them. Remember that Jesus remembers you. And communicate with God the Father using prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication all through the day. Our prayers don’t need to be long. It’s important for us to communicate with God often. Pastor Eugene Peterson prays: “Lord, seven times each day I stop and shout praises for the way you keep everything running right.”9 That’s a habit I need to develop more
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us to trust you today, for the first time, or the millioneth time. Help us trust your promises in the Bible, especially in hard times, when we feel so lonely and afraid. Forgive us for thinking that your silence is indifference. Help us to see those times as faith-stretching, times for spiritual growth. Give us faith to trust in your unseen presence with us. And to love you back and speak to you in prayer because you first loved us. Hang on to us and help us hang on to you by faith all our lives, until we see you face to face. Lord, hear us, help us, and have mercy upon us. We pray in your name, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Notes (various translations): 1 Ecclesiastes 3:11. 2 Augustine of Hippo (354–430), in Confessions. 3 adapted from Charles Hodge (1797-1878). 4 1 Cor 15:25. 5 Hebrews 1:3. 6 Is 53:7; John 1:29,36. 7 Acts 20:28. 8 1 Co 11:23-34. 9 Psalm 119:164 MSG.