S (Scripture): Isaiah 49
14 But Zion says, “The Lord has abandoned me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 Can a woman forget her nursing child, fail to pity the child of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I won’t forget you.
O (Observation): God's people – in Isaiah's time – experience despair and challenge. Their homeland is mostly unrecognizable and foreigners roam the land. Their wayward actions have caused them to distance themselves from God. And they sense that God has been kept at arm's length, as if God has abandoned or forgotten them. Yet Isaiah reminds them of something important.
Isaiah reminds God's people that God has never abandoned them. God says a mother who is still nursing her child is more likely to forget her child than God is to forget God's people.
A comforting image to a people so forlorn.
A (Application): God has a way of bringing correction and righteous anger…as well as comfort and hope. This is God's way: when we are complacent and sinful, God shakes us up. When we are downtrodden and in despair, God picks us up.
I have friends who are downtrodden and in despair. I pray that they know that God is near, trying to bring them hope.
In this season, I am feeling a bit complacent, so I sense God calling me to step up my game in certain areas, like building relationships with the various communities within Murfreesboro: with Muslims, with the black community, with the LGBTQ community.
Thankfully, processes are in place for me to take some steps forward with all 3 of these communities: "Love Your Neighbor" potluck picnic on July 30, with our Muslim neighbors; I have a friend who invited me to build relationships with a black UMC church in town; and Boro Pridefest in September, which our congregation is helping to sponsor. (Note: the goal is to walk alongside these communities to show neighborly care, not to "fix" these communities.)
While many of us are on the same path, we may be in different places on the path: some in despair, some motivated to action, and still others, wandering or wild with enthusiasm. In each case, God is near.
May we all know God's presence is near.
P (Prayer): Lord, help me to know that you are near. Amen.