When People Forget, God Never Does
“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!’” (Isaiah 49:14-15, NIV)
I knock, and my parents’ front door swings open. Dad stands there uncertainly, his collared shirt half tucked into old sweatpants.
I wait for the flash of his crinkle-eyed grin, but he just blinks and says, “Hi?”
The question guts me. My own father doesn’t recognize me.
“Dad, it’s me, Elizabeth.”
His eyes brighten. “Elizabeth! Come in.”
“I’ll make us coffee,” I say, trying to keep moving so I don’t cry. Dad’s been forgetting things for a while, but this — not recognizing his own family — is new.
We soon cradle steaming mugs at the kitchen table. I steer our conversation to familiar topics, but we keep stalling out. Dad can’t remember his favorite restaurant, our family vacations, the songs we used to sing.
On my drive home, the tears finally come. I pray, but it comes out muddled: Lord, it feels like our memories never happened … And seeing Dad’s dementia worsen in spite of all our prayers — it makes me wonder if You, too, have forgotten me.
Maybe you know the feeling: You pray and plead but get no answer — or at least not the answer you want. You reach out for God, your heart hurting, but He feels distant. Silent. And doubt starts to whisper: Maybe God doesn’t care … Maybe He’s forgotten me.
We aren’t the first to feel insecure with our Father. In moments of crisis, God’s people sometimes expressed similar feelings in the Bible. Once, when Israel was under threat from an enemy nation, the Israelites cried, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me” (Isaiah 49:14).
Now that my dad has dementia, I can more fully appreciate the way God’s response mingles painful truth with staggering kindness: “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!” (Isaiah 49:15).
By saying, “Though she may forget,” God acknowledges that people — even the people we need most — aren’t always there for us. Sometimes they can’t be. But God is always there, and He never forgets: “I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15b).
Ironically, when tough times hit, we may become forgetful. Hardship makes it hard to remember the good. We forget the comforting truths in God’s Word. We forget His kindnesses in the past. We forget … so we feel forgotten.
Here we can find guidance from Asaph, one of the biblical psalmists. Like us, Asaph asked, “Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful?” (Psalm 77:8b-9a, NIV). But Asaph revived his faith by digging through his memories: “I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will … meditate on all your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:11-12, NIV).
We, too, can overcome doubt, that lonely, God-has-forgotten-me feeling, with remembrance. We can intentionally recall specific times when God has proven faithful. Times when He has met our needs, answered our prayers, comforted our hurts. When we meditate on God’s faithfulness, the enemy’s lie — God has forgotten you — loses its power.
The next time heartache comes knocking, try clinging to God’s promise by recalling the many ways He has already kept that promise: I will not forget you.
God always remembers us … Let’s make sure we remember Him, too.
Father, thank You for remembering me. As I meditate on Your faithfulness throughout my life, I am reminded that You will remain faithful through every challenge to come. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Elizabeth Laing Thompson’s book When God Says “No” provides scriptures and insights to remind you of God’s faithfulness through hardships — because even when God says “no,” your story isn’t over.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 77:11-12, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” (NIV)
Think about some specific ways God has met your needs in the past. When you remember God’s past faithfulness, how does it strengthen your trust in Him for the future? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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