Shout for joy, O heavens;
rejoice, O earth;
burst into song, O mountains!
For the LORD comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
“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;
your walls are ever before me.
Your sons hasten back,
and those who laid you waste depart from you.
Lift up your eyes and look around;
all your sons gather and come to you.
As surely as I live,” declares the LORD,
“you will wear them all as ornaments;
you will put them on, like a bride. (Isaiah 49:13-18)
In the midst of our problems, in the dankness of our dungeon, it is impossible to see anything bright. We feel nothing but our pain, we see nothing but the oppressive darkness, we feel nothing but the walls closing in on us. The heaven’s are brass, we’re alone and nothing is getting better. There is no warmth, only the bitter cold of the moment.
In that impossible instant of Israel’s pending destruction, God reassured his people that he had not forgotten them. He compared his suffering people to an infant in its mother’s arms. The infant might be crying, wailing, hungry, fearful. In its small, undeveloped mind, all it knows is the pain of its empty belly, the dark night surrounding it. But its mother can hardly forget her child, can hardly not feel compassion for its suffering. Likewise, God was there, offering comfort and hope as they left for exile in Assyria or Babylonia.
God had not gone away, his people were no further away from him in a foreign land than they had ever been. God was not insensitive to their pain, he had not forgotten them. In fact, all they had to do was calm down, look around, and realize that everything was going to be okay. What was lost was being restored. The broken places were being repaired. It really would all be okay.