“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, yet I will never forsake you.”
To forsake something or someone means to renounce or entirely turn away from it. It includes to be deserted, to forget, abandoned or to be forlorn. It is no fun to be forsaken. Perhaps you have been forsaken by family, friends, and co-workers. Jesus certainly knew what it was like to be forsaken at the cross by his many followers and even his disciples. At Pilate’s house when he was been voted against where were the Five thousand people he fed? At the foot of the cross where were they? There are millions of Christians around the world that have been forsaken for their stand of faith in Christ. While others having done all the fasting and prayers, present at every crusade and novena prayers, booked all the masses and visited pilgrimage grounds yet all to no avail believe that God has forsaken them.
God never abandons His children. Every true Christian should know that disappointment, miscarriages, barrenness, sickness, physical assault and the likes are not to be construed as abandonment on the part of God. As a true Christian any problem or challenge that you go through is a happy fault. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “There is nothing to prevent human nature’s being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good… and the Exultet sings, ‘O happy fault,… which gained for us so great a Redeemer!’” (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 1,3,ad 3). Therefore we need to have a mindset that what will call ‘forsaken’ is actually a happy fault. In order for us to proceed therefore we shall take a look at the biblical passage in view. Isaiah 49:15
“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will never forsake you.”
EXPOSITION OF THE VERSE
Can a woman forget her sucking child? The design of this verse is apparent. It is to show that the love which God has for his people is stronger than that which is produced by the tenderest ties created by any natural relation. The love of a mother for her infant child is believed to be the strongest attachment in nature; which implies that it was unusual for a mother to be unmindful of that tie. A mother is expected to have compassion, pity and succor in times of sickness and distress. However, this is just what is expected; but what do we really get? Can a woman forget her sucking child?
Yes, they may forget: The phrase ‘they may forget,’ implies that such a thing may occur. In fact in pagan lands, as strong as the instinct which binds a mother to her offspring, it was equally common for a mother to expose her infant child, and to leave the child to die. St. Paul addressed this when he said in Rom.1:31 “they have no conscience; they do not keep their promises, and they show no kindness or pity for others.” And in his second Letter to Timothy (2Tim.3:3) St Paul regarded them as unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good.
Yes, they may forget: In the siege of Samaria by Benhadad, King of Syria, a mother, we are told in 2 Kings 6:28, 29 boiled her son for food. Perhaps that may even be a lesser evil compare to what is happening these days. Mothers have even been known in Nigeria to have forced their tender and innocent daughters to commit deadly sin. Many mothers abort their children, they encourage their children to do similar thing. In fact the rate of abortion is directly proportionate to the rate mothers forget her sucking child, such mother has shown she has no compassion on the son of her womb. Now women even dump their children in pit, in the bush and in the gutter all these are present day illustrations that show that a mother can forget her sucking child.
“…Even these may forget, yet I never forsake you.”
GOD NEVER FORSAKES
Yet will I not forget: God knows the imperfection of man. He knows our daily struggles and He says “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” The love of God surpasses that of either father or mother. Ps. 27:10 “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up”. Jos. 1:5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. God’s love is deeper and truer than the love of father and mother. 1John 4:8 God is love. His very essence is love and his love is infinite. Deu. 31:8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” In 1 Chron. 28:20 David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished. Ps.94:14 For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage.
Beloved in Christ, God can never forsake you; you need to forsake the world. Heb. 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” More so to illustrate this truth God says in verse 16 of our reading chapter “ Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms,” This an allusion to some practice, common among the Jews at that time, of making marks on their hands or arms by punctures on the skin, rendered indelible by fire or staining, with some sort of sign, or representation of the city or temple, to show their affection and zeal for it. Therefore we can say God is zealous about you.
GOD NEVER FORSAKES: WHY ARE PRAYERS NOT ANSWERED
The reason people think God has forsaken them is due to our poor understanding of prayer. We so much misunderstand prayer. Emmanuel Unamba gave an analogy, he says a man prays for a job opportunity today and get it tomorrow, he again prays for promotion and he gets it the next day he then concludes that he tells God what he wants and God does it. Many pastors brag over this; they sell this mentality to their members who in turn begin to relate with God on that same platform. God told the Israelites that if they don’t mend their ways, they will eat and not be satisfied Mic.6:14. By inference we understand that it is not actually food that satisfy, but faithfulness to the will of God. Eating however, is part and parcel of the will of God but there is more to God than give us our daily bread. For many Christians prayer is about that daily bread and when it is not granted they believe that God has forsaken them.
Christian prayer is a focus not on the answer we get from praying but on the person we pray to. In other words, it is a focus not on the gifts of the giver but on the giver of the gifts. We are expected to delight in the presence of God and not the presents from God. Usually when people give gifts they tell the recipient to look beyond the gift they are offering to the heart that offers it. A concentration on the answer to prayers rather than God. if daily bread is the sole purpose of prayer then prayer would mean a constant effort controlling God instead of us putting ourselves in the control of God.
Michael Downey calls this new age spirituality where contemporary Christians reveal an attitude of praying to change God. An age where God should listen to man not man listens to God. Man has created God in his own image and likeness, consequently, God must comply with man’s desires. Prayer cannot alter divine plan; but a good prayer is always in line with the divine plan. Therefore, the most important is to seek it first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and every other thing shall be added Matt.6:33.
Even Jesus, during His crucifixion, asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). To the onlookers of that time, it seems that God did forsake Jesus, so we obviously conclude that He will forsake us as well in our darkest moments. Yet, upon continued observation of the events that unfolded after the crucifixion, the truth is revealed that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death (Romans 8:37-39). After Jesus was crucified, He was glorified (1 Peter 1:21). Therefore, we can be assured that even when we do not feel God’s presence in the midst of our pain, we can still believe His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
We put our trust in the fact that God does not lie, He never changes, and His Word stands true forever (Numbers 23:19) do not lose heart over painful circumstances because we live by faith in every word that has proceeded from the mouth of God, not putting our hope in what is seen or perceived. We trust God that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs all the suffering that we will endure on this earth. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, because we know and believe that what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:7). We also trust God’s Word, which says He is constantly working things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Even though we do not always see the good ends to which God is working things out, we can be assured that a time will come when we will understand and see more clearly.