Not Forgotten, Not Abandoned
"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).
The New Testament city of Ephesus was immersed in the Greco-Roman tradition of the pursuit of beauty and perfection in every sense: art, architecture, music, and even regarding the human race.
In fact, Greeks and Romans regularly abandoned their unwanted (less than physically perfect, or often, female) infants to the elements as a means of divesting themselves of the responsibility and stigma of such a child. This practice was termed “exposing” the child. Some of those rejected children, if physically able, were "adopted" by Ephesian citizens only to serve as slaves.
Testifying to the common act of abandoning children is the following letter written June 17, 1 B.C., by a man named Hilarion to his pregnant wife, Alis:
“Know that I am still in Alexandria. And do not worry if they all come back and I remain in Alexandria. I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I receive payment I will send it up to you. If you are delivered of child [before I get home], if it is a boy keep it, if a girl discard it. You have sent me word, ‘Don’t forget me.’ How can I forget you. I beg you not to worry.”
How could such a warm missive contain such a cold directive to simply discard a baby!
As customary as this cold-heartedness was, there were some, mainly Jews and later Christians, who would make a long hike to the outskirts and dunghills to rescue these forgotten children in spite of the great sacrifices they would make to care for them.
Imagine, then, the joy of one of those rescued Ephesian children, slave or free, upon hearing Paul's letter: For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Blameless. Loved. Pleasing Him.
You and I also live in a culture which seeks perfection by almost any standard other than the one of a holy God. We want beautiful faces and bodies, state of the art technology, instant and vast knowledge, perfect careers, homes and children. We live in a “throw-away” society that has little use for items, or people, who cannot contribute in ways we find most valuable. The aged, the unborn, and the voiceless are often discarded or put out of view.
And you and I—we definitely fall short by our fellow man’s standards. Even if we became one of the "beautiful people" who graced the covers of magazines and made millions simply by repeating memorized lines, soon the world would tire of seeing us at the top and begin to knock us down the ladder rung by rung until we became yesterday's news, forgotten, mocked, or scorned.
And incredibly, some of us have literally been unprotected or discarded by our very own mothers and fathers.
In other words, we live in a world of hurt.
But we are not abandoned.
Jesus, you could say, like those compassionate Jews and Christians who rescued the abandoned, strapped on his hiking boots and walked a long, steep hill, Golgotha, to rescue us. We belong to him. We belong. He chose us. We are accepted. We are loved.
Can you see Jesus’ determination to rescue us? “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Though it cost him so much, he sacrificed more than we can comprehend to bring us into his family, and no one can ever change our status!
So you may have been literally abandoned at birth, or emotionally abandoned, or abandoned by a spouse or feel like an outsider wherever you are, but the truth is, you are not abandoned. You are deeply wanted.
Jesus, the expression of God’s great love, reached out his mighty hand to scoop you up, redeem you and call you by name—you are His! (Isaiah 43:1).
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