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Crying and Shouting October 21, 2012

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons, Uncategorized.
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Isaiah 49:8-16a

October 20-21, 2012

Focus: God never forsakes us.

Function: That the hearers rejoice in the compassion of Yahweh.

Structure: Here is a prevailing view…but here is the claim of the gospel.



Crying and Shouting

Text: v.14-But Zion said, “Yahweh has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.”

            “MOMMY!!!!!!”  It’s the sound that I’m becoming all too familiar with.  It’s the part of my day I can always count on.  As I sit in my apartment writing papers or reading for class, that’s the sound I hear.  It’s more of a whine, really.  So, I look out the window and there he is.  Little Ben.  He’s just learned how to walk and the only word he seems to be able to say is mommy.  And he uses it, a lot.

We may not be able to read the minds of babies and infants, but we hear them.  We hear them cry out.  From the ear-shattering cries, to the cries that wake us up in the middle of the night, they’re good at it.  They cry out.  But why?  Why is it that one of my classmates was rejoicing earlier this week because he and his wife managed to get five hours of sleep one night?  Why can’t they just let mom and dad catch up on some sleep or get a few things done that need to be done?  Why is it that if you put them down for even just a few moments, those cute little eyes start to become red and filled with tears?

They cry out for needs and attention.  They cry because they feel alone and neglected.  They cry when they find themselves alone in fear that they’ve been forgotten.  Alone, forgotten, forsaken.

It’s the nursing child, the son of her womb that Isaiah mentions in the text.  It’s Israel, God’s children, Zion.  “Yahweh has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.”  Israel conquered and led into exile.  Judah, exiled.  All of God’s people, treated poorly by the Assyrians and Babylonians alike.  Alone, forgotten, forsaken.

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever felt alone?  Have you ever felt so betrayed by life that there was nowhere and no one you thought you could turn to?  I have.  I remember a time when I was overwhelmed by everything going on in my life.  It was just before I started the seminary.  My wife, fiancée at the time, Hannah was still off at school in Nebraska, as were most of my friends for that matter.  And one day the idea of being a pastor scared me.  Could I really do it?  Was this really what I wanted do with my life?  Is this what God wanted me to do with my life?  If I bail now, is everything up to this point lost?  I remember crying out for help.  I tried speaking with a few people; but, none of them seemed to get it.  I felt alone.

No doubt, sin plays a part in all this.  Sin is the cause of all this.  Sin leads to death, disease, and broken relationships.  Your sin, my sin, opens us up to this feeling.  We hurt one another and the people we care about hurt us.  Maybe you’ve lost a relationship because of something you’ve said.  Or maybe gossip about you hit a little too close to home.  Betrayal leaves us feeling alone.

But sometimes we can’t stop it.  Even if we aren’t actively sinning, sin still isolates us.  Learning that you or a loved one has a terminal illness.  Losing your job and no longer having the ability to support your family.  The riddles and tragedy of broken homes caused by divorce or abortion.  Life can be tragic.  Sin, grief, and loss cause us to wonder if anyone really cares.  And worse yet, they cause us to wonder where God is in all this.  We feel alone, forgotten, forsaken.

Together with the children and Israel, we cry out.  “MOMMY!!!!!!”  We shout and we scream hoping that someone, anyone will hear us.  Hoping that somewhere, someone will help us.

And then, out of nowhere, there’s an answer to our cries.  How many times when I hear little Ben cry out does he get an answer?  Every time.  Without fail, though he feels alone, he never is.  I watch out the window as mom comes to the rescue.  She swoops in, arms open wide (open arms wide, cross-like), and lifts him up off the ground into her arms (cross arms over chest).  Sometimes dad even gets in on the action.

God speaks this very illustration through Isaiah to His people.  “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb?  Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.”  Only in rare cases does a parent neglect their child.  That’s part of being in a sinful world.  But that’s not the case with God.  Yahweh, our Father, never forgets.

There was another child, the Son of God, who cried out as well.  Like Zion, like us, Jesus Christ, hanging on the cross, cries out.  He asks the question. “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachtani?”  “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”  In suffering, in pain, in a time where He had been abandoned by all those around Him, Jesus cried out.  Alone, forgotten, forsaken.

And if ever there were an answer to that question, it’s here, it’s in Christ.  When He asks why He has been forsaken, God answers.  The reason Christ is on that cross is for Israel, for the crying children.  God’s answer is for us.

And as God told Zion, “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” Do you know what the American Sign Language sign for Jesus is?  Make sign. The marks in His hands.  Our aloneness has been inscribed in His hands.  He will never forget His people.

As we cry out, as we look for help, this is what we see.  We see God.  We see what He has done for us on the cross.  We see Christ, hands lifted up and stretched out. Stretch out arms.  And as the mother cradling her child, we see God’s love for us.  Cross arms over chest.  This, by the way, is the sign for love.  In Christ’s aloneness, He died for us.

Unfortunately, sin still plagues this world.  Even though we’re no longer alone, sin can still make us feel like we are.  Sin, death, betrayal, they can still make us isolated.  How then can we overcome these feelings?  How do we overcome feeling alone?

We keep crying out.  But those cries are no longer the same.  We cry out to the One who cares for us and loves us.  Isaiah provides one such answer in the text.  Yahweh spoke to His Son.  He spoke to Christ saying “I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people.”  When is Christ given as a covenant for us?  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul all see fit to answer that question.  Pastor Mitteis will recite the words here among us in just a few minutes.  “In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  When you feel alone, where can you turn?  Right here. Point to rail.  We come together and celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  His blood has been shed so that we need not feel alone anymore.

We also overcome being alone by crying out in prayer.  Jesus tells us this in Matthew 7. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”  We know that God hears us when we pray.  We know that He answers us when we pray.  If you’re feeling alone, forgotten and forsaken, take it to the Lord in prayer.  Cry out to your Father who loves you.

What Christ did for us didn’t stop on the cross.  It didn’t stop with our Savior alone, forgotten, and forsaken in the ground.  No!  But instead, on the third day, that first Easter morning, the cries and shouts of loss turned into cries and shouts for joy.

We hear it from Isaiah.  “Shout for joy, O heavens!  And rejoice, O earth!  Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains!  For Yahweh has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted.”  For through His death and resurrection, we know that we are loved, forgiven, and restored.  Through the covenant of His blood and through prayer, we know that He remembers us and is with us forever. We know that we will never be alone, forgotten or forsaken. In 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul encourages us to “[r]ejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  Together, as God’s children, we cry out, we shout out for joy in our Savior.