Love is in the air! As I write, Valentine’s Day is looming and I have my annual panic about trying to find the right card for my wife, Nicola, that says what I would want to say without also making her feel sick. Trying to put love into words is no easy task.
The prophet Isaiah had the unenviable task of trying to describe the love God has for us. The prophet likened it to the love a mother has for her child:
“Can a woman forget the infant at her breast, or a mother the child of her womb? But should even these forget, I shall never forget you. I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are always before my eyes.”
Isaiah 49 vv.15-16
This is one of the most touching expressions of God’s love. It affirms the unbroken union of God and the people of God.
Upon entering a relationship, our greatest fear is always that the one who loves us will forget us. To be forgotten is to be abandoned, to be lost. It really isn’t true that it is “better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all.” There is nothing more painful than to lose love.
We are assured of God’s everlasting faithfulness in the beautiful imagery of the love of a mother for her child. When her child is grown, a mother remembers. She remembers the first word, the first step. In remembering, she continues to give life. Even if a mother in her human weakness would fail to remember, God will not forget.
The words of this passage were addressed to the people at a time of political upheaval and within the uncertainties of exile. They were announced as part of the promise of God’s continual faithfulness. The people needed to be comforted by these words of Isaiah.
The message of this passage knows no age. God will never abandon us, the children conceived in and born of God’s creative love. There will never be any circumstance that will nullify this love. God’s birthing and nurturing of us continues. “I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.“ We are held in God’s remembering of us.
Love is in the air – as we make begin our journey through Lent with Jesus to Jerusalem, the cross and beyond. May we never forget the reality of God’s love for us – and for all God’s children.
With love and prayers
Russell J Furley-Smith