13Sing for joy, Heavens! Rejoice Earth!
Break into singing, Mountains!
For YHWH has comforted his people,
He has shown compassion on those who suffer.
14But Zion said, â€œYHWH has abandoned me!
My Lord has forgotten me.â€
15Can a woman forget the child she is nursing,
Can she withhold compassion from a child of her womb?
Even these might forget,
But I will not forget you.
16Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands,
Your walls of protection are always before my eyes. — Isaiah 49:13-16
Have you ever been in a conversation and you told a story, only to have someone else say, â€œThat reminds me of the time . . .â€? I know I do it to others quite regularly because their stories do remind me of various things that happened to me or that I have heard of. It’s quite possible for someone to get quite obnoxious with this, because they always have a story that’s â€œone betterâ€ than yours.
Ask yourself why that sort of thing would bother you? What’s so important about stories? In fact, it is through stories that we understand and interact with our world. Facts by themselves are of very little interest. Consider these items: â€œ7 innings pitched, 4 runs, 2 earned (4 errors by the infield), 2 strikeouts, 1 walk.â€ You can quickly tell that I’m talking baseball, and apparently summarizing a game. Is it very interesting? Well, unless you’re guessingâ€”and you’re probably trying to do just thatâ€”it’s pretty dull all by itself.
But now I’ll tell you that the pitcher was our son John Webb, and I listened to the game on the internet last night. Each of those errors was painful. John seemed to be placing the ball very well, but the narrative was the errors. Does that make it any more interesting? Does that tell you why I would remember what happened?
Christianity too has a story, in fact, many stories. Each story that we hear or tell within our faith or our spiritual journey, we tend to try to fit in with the overall story. There are many variations. Each congregation, and even each person has their own story.
In the Bible we have a central story. You can either say that it happened over and over or that we tend to tell it and reuse it again and again. It’s the story of redemption.
We start with the big one from Exodusâ€”God redeeming his people from bondage. Then we have the exile, which is in view in our story today. Again, we have a story of redemption. As Christians, we then turn to the cross, and the redemption from sin. But there are many more stories. There’s Abraham called out of Ur, David, taken from herding sheep and made king, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus escaping Herod to Egypt, and then being drawn from there (do you hear the Exodus?) back to their home.
The underlying and overarching theme is this: God redeems. It’s what he does. He may use different methods. He may allow all kinds of troubles, but he redeems. That is the story that explains all stories for us as Christians.
Don’t forget it: God is in the redemption business! Tell the story of redemption. Live the story of redemption!