The Israelites were suffering in exile under the Babylonians. They felt hopeless and were tempted to believe that God no longer cared about them. Then God told them through the prophet Isaiah:
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 you name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.” (Isaiah 49: 14-16)
Of course, the real issue was not that God had forgotten his people but that God’s people too often forgot their God. They forgot the goodness of his abundant provision and the gladness of walking in his ways. It was not God who had deserted them, but they who had deserted God.
Jesus had the same heart toward God’s faithless people as his Father in heaven. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me,”(Matthew 23:37).
To express the committed and affectionate love God has for his fear-filled and faithless people, the prophet Isaiah pictured God opening up his hands to reveal their names written there. Jesus also showed his hands to reveal the lengths his love had gone for those who were fearful and faithless:
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” (John 20: 26-27)
Whenever we doubt, let us remember His wounds.
Prayer – Lord Jesus, forgive me for ever doubting your care and concern for me. When I begin to wonder, I need only to look at the palm of your hand where I see the marks of your love, faithfulness and goodness. I will walk in gladness knowing your patient love for me.
Song: By His Wounds (Glory Revealed)
Incumbent at St Aidan's Anglican Church,