I sat in my bathroom, tears running down my face harsh sobs causing my shoulders to tremble and shake. “Where are you, God?” For the first time in weeks, the words whispered in my heart were not angry, they were filled with a deep sort of sadness, a painful longing. “Why have you forgotten me?”
Things hadn’t always been like that. Months before I had walked with God with the intimacy common between good friends. He was there. I felt his presence as deeply as if I was Lucy with my hands entwined in Aslan’s main, gently being led forward. He spoke and I listened. My heart was full and I worshiped often.
Then he told me to go on ahead. It was like he had done so many time before. Go forward and he would meet me there. I knew that. I trusted that. So with the unassuming, innocent obedience of a child, I did. I did what he told me and went to where he directed. And waited. And waited a little longer. I waited some more. But he didn’t show up.
At first, I was confused. Maybe I had heard wrong. Was this really where he told me to go? Had I missed a turn? Somehow heard wrong? Over and over again I went through the months leading to that point. My heart kept confirming that I was in the right place. But then, why was I alone? Why hadn’t he come?
Eventually, the confusion gave way to stubbornness. And before long, that stubbornness turned into anger. He had left me. Me! I had obeyed. I had worshiped. I had prayed and still he left me! God had given me dreams, given me friends, given me hopes… and then taken them all away. The God I trusted was acting in a way that felt so untrustworthy that I was angry. Really, really angry. I still trusted that he was God; I just didn’t really want anything to do with him. I didn’t read my Bible. I rarely went to church. I tried to listen to worship music but the words fell flat and echoed with a fakeness I couldn’t shake off. I tried to pray but quite honestly, my prayers felt like they bounced off the ceiling. He had left me. I was alone.
But then, in the midst of this anger, I found myself in the Word. I don’t even know what brought me there; it certainly wasn’t to have a quiet time. But he brought me there nonetheless and he brought me to a verse I had never really seen before.
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.
The words shook me to the core. Forgotten. That was what I was feeling. More than stubborn or confused or even angry, I felt forgotten and it hurt. God used a passage about how he had not forgotten his people to show me what I had actually been feeling all along. And what’s more, the more forgotten by God I felt, the more it brought up all the times I have felt forgotten by others. People had forgotten me in the past. I had been left behind, passed over, disregarded, and ignored. And those times hurt, they really hurt. But from people you might expect it a little bit; I didn’t expect it from God.
I sat on my bathroom floor and cried. According to that verse, no matter how forgotten I felt, God had not forgotten me. He doesn’t forget his people. And yet, I still felt very alone. Ugly tears streamed down my face and my heart called out to God.
More than Remembered
Slowly, the tears subsided and in the midst of my hurt, I began to hear the quiet voice of my Lord. He began to speak tender truths to my broken spirit. He reminded me that I am loved. That he called me. That he is always with me, even when I cannot see his face or hear his voice he will never leave me. He told me that he has a plan for me. And then he showed me again that I am remembered; actually, I’m more than that, I’m engraved.
Dear friends, no matter how hurt or alone I might feel, no matter how dark it is outside or how confused I am on this path, I am more than remembered. In those words in Isiah, God doesn’t say that he will remember us, he takes it a step further, he says that he will not forget us because we are engraved on the palms of his hands. Engraved. Etched. Permanently marked. Scarred. That is how deep and abiding and everlasting the love of our Father is. Not only will he always remember us, but he will never forget us and his hands bear proof of that.
I thought I was forgotten but the truth was, I never will be. There may be times when I feel alone, we’ve all been there. And there may be times when I feel abandoned, but feelings are tricky things (good, but sometimes mistaken). In those times I need to remember this passage and cling to the truth it speaks, even if it’s with a white-knuckled, by the nails sort of clinging.
Dear Friend, the this goes for you too. No matter how alone you feel, how bleak things look, or even how long you have waited, you are not forgotten. Can I say that again, just so we’re all clear? You are not forgotten. The God of the universe, the one who chose you, who loves you, who died for YOU, he has not and will not ever forget you. You may not understand what’s going on, and there will be times when you cannot see his face, but he is not far. And if you are struggling, reach out. To me, to someone else you trust, to someone who can lovingly take your hand and wait with you. You are not alone. You are engraved on his palms and have not been forgotten.
That day on my bathroom floor, I wasn’t forgotten and I wasn’t alone. God was asking me to patiently wait a bit longer; there were other things he needed to me to be working on. I’ve seen him move since then; in ways both large and small and I’m learning to look for his presence even when I feel alone. And in those hard times, I remind my heart of what God himself has said…
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…