When Israel was in captivity in Babylon, they cried out to God saying, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me” (Isaiah 49:14). They were alone and devastated, without the sense of His presence.
Even today, weary souls can feel like that. In my humanness, I tend to equate the presence of God with joy and pleasant emotions. However, He says that He will never leave me or forsake me. My emotions are not the proof of that; His character and faithfulness make it so. Besides, He is an omnipresent God who loves His people enough to die for us.
Yet there are times when life presents great challenges and I have to remind myself of His promises. He is here with me, whether it seems so or not. This is the value of the written Word of God. Without it, how would I know His mind? How would I know what He says and that what is true when my emotions deny such realities?
This morning’s reading takes me to this verse, particularly the last sentence. God is reminding His people Israel, who were in captivity, of His plans for them and their restoration.
Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame. (Isaiah 49:23)
As I read it, I thought that I really do not care if anyone bows down to me or licks the dust of my feet, but I suppose if I was in bondage, I might. I’m reading The Hiding Place, the story of Corrie ten Boom and her imprisonment during WWII. She may have felt a desire for vindication, or to have these people bow to her, even though much later God granted her the grace to forgive those who held her captive.
This verse promises no shame for those who wait for God. Yet Corrie and her sister trusted Him and were put to shame, at least for awhile. I’m thinking that the verse is not about shameful circumstances. Christians are not exempt from those. Instead, it is about never being ashamed because of waiting on God. Eventually, He will fulfill His promises and no one who trusts Him will finish their life saying that they are ashamed of their faith. Even in the darkest places a person could be, as Corrie was in the camps during the holocaust, God did not forsake her. She learned that in ways that most of us will never experience.
Eventually she was vindicated and released, telling her story and blessing millions who have read it. This encourages me as does this verse from Isaiah. God wants me to wait on Him, trust Him. Life can be difficult at times, and I might even experience horrible things, but in the end, I will never be put to shame for trusting God.
Lord, truly faith is a precious gift. My trials are nothing like those who are put in tiny cement cells simply for calling You their God and naming the name of Jesus Christ. Yet even if that happened, Your promises hold true because You are true. You never leave or forsake Your people. In the end, we are more than conquerors because of the One who loves us.