My son Noah has found a passage of Scripture that has completely captivated him. A few nights ago, as I was going to tuck him into bed I found him sitting in bed reading his Bible. As I came close to him he said “I just can’t get over this.” I looked down and saw that he was reading about Jesus and the thief on the cross. For some wonderful reason, at 8 years old he was identifying himself with the thief that was promised a place in the Kingdom of God. He found it amazing and moving that Jesus, during His death, was willing to listen, to love and to redeem. If there ever was a moment that things could have and should have been about Jesus this was it. But instead, He chose, in the midst of His pain, in the midst of His suffering, in the midst of bearing the sin of the world, to come close to the broken hearted and to provide peace for a man that was wounded.
This week I heard news of a friend of mine that finds himself completely broken-hearted. In a moment everything has changed, everything that was good seems to be gone and everything that was hidden has now been seen. While I have not had the opportunity to talk to him, I am sure that his life is like one large exposed nerve, everything hurts right now. When we get news like this our emotions seem to run a range like going through a musical scale. Often we consider how it makes us feel before we move to a place of intercession or comfort. We feel disappointment, sometimes anger, often we identify or think about what we would do in similar situations. The gravest of circumstances in the lives of others somehow become about us. We have a tendency to react with our flesh rather than to act with the Spirit of God that dwells within us.
The thief had a specific request for Jesus: “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” As I was praying for my friend yesterday my thoughts went back to this passage and my conversation with Noah. I realized that many of us, just like this thief, live in the fear of being forgotten. We are concerned that we will be overlooked, mistreated or just unappreciated. Even consider the lyrics of the popular old hymn, “While on others Thou art calling, do not pass me by.” We have thought God to be like a man, that His memory is short or even worse that He is self-consumed and concerned, that we somehow have to get His attention or we are in danger of being forgotten, not merely for the moment but possibly forever.
Jesus made an amazing announcement as He began His ministry. He stood up in the Synagogue of Nazareth, surrounded by those that knew Him the most and He read from Isaiah about Himself, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Jesus announces to them, “I have come for you!” He is not a king coming to be exalted but a King coming to serve. He is not a god coming to prove himself but He is the God coming to approve of His children. He is not a mere prophet or a man that should be listened to, He is the King of all Kings coming to show all of the world that He has been listening.
One of the most beautiful passages of Scripture is found in Exodus 3 when God calls Moses to lead Israel out of the slavery of Egypt. He says to Moses, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians”. God knows! God sees! God hears! We don’t have to remind Him, we have no reason to fear being forgotten or forsaken. God is not a man, He is not self involved and He is not short sighted or minded. He is for us, He is not coming, He has come to deliver each of us.
Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” This is His character, it is who He is to heal us. Our broken hearts are not insignificant, they are not tasks to be accomplished, they are the very character of who God is. He is not put out by our needs, He is moved by them.
Yesterday as I was praying for my friend God gently reminded me that He is the God that remembers. We don’t have to beg Him to come from heaven, to put down what He is doing and intervene on our behalf; He has always been present, He is not just near, He is here, dwelling within us, anointed to heal, to repair, to loosen and to pour out. If you sit with a broken heart today, don’t believe that you have been forgotten. Don’t give in to your pity and to your pain, trust in the God who promised to love you always. The part of Luke’s account of Jesus’ interaction with the thief on the cross that amazed my son is the part that also amazes me. After the thief asked to be remembered Jesus responded quickly, “today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” Jesus does not put us off, He does not think someone else’s need or request is more important, He does not even for a moment make the man hope that He will find favor. With a great resounding promise Jesus proves James’ words correct, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” “Today!” “Today!” “Today!”
I am praying for my friend, I am praying that his broken heart would be mended today .I am praying for my city, that it will see the glory of God today. I am praying for my children, that they will hear the voice of God today. I am praying for our church, that we will walk in the fullness of God today. I am praying for all of us, that we will not believe the lie that God forgets, that God is slow or even that He delays. I promise you this, God hears, God sees and most of all God remembers! No matter what your situation today, you are not forgotten, I pray that you will receive the love of Jesus and the answer to your request, today.