Isaiah 49:15-16

‘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 . . .’
Isaiah 49:15-16
Grandpa John was a hardworking farmer, a humble, faithful man who loved God, adored his family, and embraced his routines. After he died, a slip of paper was found in his shirt pocket, folded and unfolded so many times that it had begun to separate at the seams. On one side, he had written the grocery list he used week after week. On the other side, he had carefully recorded the names and birthdates of every grandchild and great grandchild that he prayed for day after day.
 
This discovery moved us deeply, the worn paper and faded pencil marks of a man who loved us and prayed for us. At the end of his long life, he had not forgotten us, but he carried our names in his shirt breast pocket, close to his heart, even as his heart gave out and he collapsed in the aisle at HyVee.
 
No worn paper was found in Jesus’ garments, stripped from his body and divided among the soldiers when they crucified him. He did not need to write our names on a piece of paper that would fade with time; He engraved them on His hands.          
 
Nails that brought Jesus’ death and our salvation engraved us on the palms of His hands. The same hands that measured out the foundation of the earth, loosed stars throughout the galaxies, and tenderly formed us were also marked and marred by us in love. The same voice that spoke light into darkness and calmed windswept seas calls us by name. And the name He calls us is ‘mine.’

‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you’ (Isaiah 43:1-2).
 
We doubt this sometimes, who God is, who we are, whose we are. We doubt what Jesus has done for us. Perhaps this is because we are self-made people who find our identity in degrees and resumés, in careers and accomplishments, in DNA tests and genealogies, in ancestry and progeny, and in idolatry. But our idols cannot save us from fires and floods, and we cannot save ourselves from our own sin that would destroy us.
 
It is a lonely, hopeless place to be, this place of doubt. Like Thomas, we become skeptics, saying, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails, I will never believe.’
 
But Jesus doesn’t dismiss Thomas or condemn him for his doubt. Jesus reassures Thomas, reminds him who he is and whose he is, invites Thomas to trace His scars and believe. And Thomas does believe. ‘My Lord and my God!’ he cries. Jesus invites each one of us to do the same, to trace His scars and find our name engraved there, and to believe.

Rebecca Janni | Author 

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