Summary: As a mother never forgets her child, so our Father never forgets His children.
WHEN I WAS A KID – I mean, a really little kid – my mother had to ride a bus to work every day. But first, she had to drop me off at the sitter’s, which means that I rode on the bus part of the way with her. It was always early in the morning. Ordinarily, the sun wasn’t even up, but we were! Standing at the corner across from our apartment building, we waited for the bus, and we did it every single day.
There was one day I will never forget. It was in winter. Snow was falling, and a thick layer of ice had already formed on the streets. Nevertheless, my mother bundled me up and took me with her for our daily routine of waiting for the bus. The coat I was wearing was no match for the piercing wind. I was shaking uncontrollably. I didn’t think about it at the time – because kids generally don’t – but my mother was probably just as cold as I was. And yet, you know what she did? She unbuttoned her coat, pulled me inside it, right up next to her, and she put her arms around me and held me close. I was still cold, but I felt safe.
What would childhood be like without our mothers? Some, of course, have had to find out. I talked with a man only this past week – he must have been in his eighties. He told me that his mother died when he was only five days old. He still grieves a life – what has turned out to be a long life – lived without a mother’s touch. My heart broke for him. It breaks for you, too, if you mother died when you were a child.
Most of us, thankfully, have memories of our mothers. They cooked for us, cheered us on, defended us, held us, sat up with us, and made us feel safe and important and capable. Today, we bless our mothers. Our mothers may be, hands down, the most influential people in our lives. In fact, we learn something about God from our mothers. As a mother never forgets her child, so our Father never forgets his children.
Sometimes, we think he does. In chapter 49 of Isaiah, the prophet tells us how God “has comforted his people” and how his compassion is unfailing. We see that in verse 13. But God’s comfort doesn’t always register with us. In the very next verse, verse 14, Isaiah writes, “But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.’” Zion, of course, refers to God’s people – to you and me – and we have to admit: there are times when we conclude that God has managed to forget us.
When you think about it, God could take offense at this, given all that he has done for us. It would be something like telling our mothers, who have sacrificed greatly for our sake – it would be like telling them that they didn’t really love us. Saying something like that is a good way to hurt your mother’s feelings – so don’t do it, right?
But God doesn’t get his feelings hurt. In fact, if what we read here in Isaiah 49 is any indication, God redoubles his effort to persuade us that he does love us – with a love greater than we could even begin to measure – and to assure us that we are never forgotten.
When discouragement besets us, encouragement blesses us, and the source of that encouragement is God. In fact, here in Isaiah, God gives us four word pictures to encourage us when we most need it.
The first word picture he uses is that of a mother’s arms, and it is found in verse 15. The Lord asks, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?” We don’t even have to think about it, do we? Mothers don’t forget their children, and their compassion never fails.
There are, of course exceptions. We hear in the news about a woman somewhere on trial for taking the life of her children. Recently, I heard about a mother who introduced her daughter to drug abuse. Things like this happen, but they’re rare. As biblically instructed Christians, we may be saddened by such reports, but we are not surprised. We know that we live in a fallen world, a world where sin has its clutches on every one of us. But, generally speaking, mothers are not like that. Each case I have mentioned is the exception that proves the rule. A mother never forgets her child.
But look at what God says next. Even if she does, “I will not forget you.” As a mother never forgets her child, so our Father never forgets his children.