I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
- Psalm 42:9-11
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
- Luke 15:11-32
Back on Easter weekend, my wife, during dialysis, had a needle improperly inserted and as a result, she nearly bled out, losing consciousness with dangerously low blood pressure. We do not think it a coincidence that the next day of dialysis after Easter, her eight-month wait to be evaluated for kidney transplant consideration was over, and we got our appointment, two weeks later.
But also, my wife moved to a different location in the dialysis center, one of the stations immediately in the nurse area. One of my wife’s friends at the center said, “Oooo, the VIP section! The personal touch.” My wife does not like it, because there are no people near her with whom she can have a conversation. She calls it, “putting baby in a corner.” Note: She had often been in the physical corner of the clinic. This “corner” was in the middle of the room, far from the physical corners.
For those who do not know the reference:
“Nobody puts baby in a corner.”
- Johnny Castle, played by Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing
Also note that I have never seen the movie all the way through, but my wife makes up for my lack of attention span.
But there is something worse than putting baby in the corner. You can be lost and forgotten altogether.
I have written in the past about the time that I went to the US Army Heidelberg Hospital, Heidelberg, West Germany for an upper GI test, before they did endoscopies, at least before the army had them. I drank a half dozen barium shakes. I went into an office to wait. Four hours later, a medic came in to apologize because they had forgotten me. He also brought another half dozen barium shakes, since the first ones had gone too far through the digestive system. Note: (I am doing the “note” thing a lot today.) Barium shakes are heavy and hard to swallow. They taste terrible. And after 4-5, you think you can never drink another. Try that after a dozen. The results: I have lived with GERD ever since, for over forty years. The immediate results were that I had very strange bowel movements for a few days.
Fast forward to about twenty years ago. My wife had been a diabetic for about 6-7 years, and she wanted an endocrinologist to take care of that issue and her sluggish thyroid. There was this very thorough endocrinologist near where we lived, about ten miles away. But because she was thorough and she overbooked appointments, she got behind. It was so bad that my wife would get a 1:00pm appointment, and then call the office about 4:00pm to see if she should come for her appointment yet. The doctor, by lunchtime, was usually four hours behind, sometimes worse. On one occasion, she was placed in the doctor’s private office instead of an examining room. My wife will not admit it, but I think she took a nap. She came out of the office, and there were only a couple of people left in the building. She had been forgotten. That endocrinologist was the first, and my wife is presently on the sixth, which she has never met due to telemedicine appointments during COVID.
Now, fast forward to the full day of kidney transplant qualification interviews. We got there early, and the finance person interviewed us before our appointment time was to begin. That probably threw them off. We then had an hour-long training session, followed by a nurse doing paperwork and consent forms, then a doctor specializing in electrolytes, a dietician, a pharmacist, a social worker, and a behavioral health nurse. Somewhere in there, my wife left to have twenty vials of blood drawn. By then, we were past lunch time, with my wife getting a sandwich and me eating some snacks that I had brought – sneaking bites between appointments. When the behavioral nurse left, she said that all we had left was an interview with our pre-transplant coordinator. To clarify, you get three coordinators: pre-transplant until you are on the wait list, then wait list coordinator until you get the transplant, and then post-transplant coordinator, as you think it would be easier for a few months to just move into the hospital. We were prepared for delays between appointments, so we read, fiddled with our phones and the tablet, and we talked.
About an hour and a half later, the pre-transplant coordinator came in. She was in a hurry. Things did not work right. We never got the letterhead that she wanted on the letter – showing her as “temporary coordinator” instead of her as the pre-transplant coordinator. Finally, as rush hour was starting on the Pittsburgh streets, we got to go to the check out person who scheduled my wife for some of her tests. The check out person mumbled that she was about to send out an all points bulletin for us, since everyone else had left a couple of hours before. Again, we were lost and forgotten. I do not think this is what Jesus meant by the first being last, but we had been first, half-hour early and two hours later than the other people, decidedly last.
I would like to poll all readers as to whether you have been placed in an office and forgotten once, twice, three times?!?! Is it just my wife and me?
But we will never be forgotten by God. The psalmists, the Sons of Korah, lament about God forgetting them, but we must understand that this is a poetic way of expressing our deep desire to be nearer to God and our pain in not being close enough (in human terms). The psalmist paints this bleak picture of others mocking us because our God as forsaken us, but… There is always that “but.” But we shall place our hope in the Lord. God has never forgotten us, not has God forsaken us. Our times of struggle are often testing to show that we turn to God in such times. God is always there.
And I have heard sermons and read books, including Timothy Keller’s The Prodigal God, about how the story of the prodigal son illustrates the father as seeing the son from a far distance and running to meet him. The prodigal son was in a major state of “you do you.” He squandered all his inheritance, but through that entire time, the father kept an eye on the road, waiting for his lost son to come to his senses and return.
We may say that we seek God, but He is never lost. We simply come to our senses and realize what was there all along.
Do you feel lost and forgotten?
God is there, and He loves you.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.