Isaiah 43:4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you…
Multiple Japanese translations isolate this from the second half of the verse, leaving out the conjunctions the NIV inserts, which makes me think the Hebrew is probably the same way. That makes this, “You are precious and honored in my sight. I love you.” No wonder this is the favorite verse in the Bible for many Japanese Christians! We all have a fundamental need to be valued and loved, and yet far too many people lack that assurance, some of them completely. That leads to all sorts of aberrations, in individual lives and in society as a whole. People will do almost anything to try to get that assurance, but the problem is, it can’t really be earned. People strive to climb the corporate ladder in order to feel valued, and often enough end up being hated by the people they trample on the way. People mistake the release of endorphins for love, and end up addicted to behaviors and substances that destroy them. The only real answer to all of that is the gracious love of our Creator. If it seems too good to be true, that’s because on the human level it is. We can’t generate that sort of love, but God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to die for us. (John 3:16) Countless things interfere with human love, but “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, no any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) That is the answer to every issue of self-image, to every need to belong, to be valued. That doesn’t mean it’s OK to be puffed up and conceited, because God loves every other human being just as much. However, no person, from conception through physical death, is unimportant to God. There is the whole issue of sin, in violation of the holiness of God, but God’s love is so great that He gave His Son as the solution to that. He can’t excuse, but He can forgive. Those who repent of their rebellion and unbelief and understand that Jesus’ cross was their cross receive the holiness and purity of Christ Himself. (2 Corinthians 5:12) That is the glorious message of the Gospel.
This is something I have been proclaiming for many years, but at the same time it is something I am still learning. I’m a member of a “Missionary Kids” group on Facebook, and it’s interesting how many of us still struggle with the whole issue of belonging, with many not feeling “at home” anywhere. The irony is that for someone raised with the Gospel, the awareness that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20) should come naturally. I have that awareness, but it has come painfully, with many instances of human rejection. I need to remember that Jesus was clear that we are in the world but not of the world. (John 17:15-16) I am to open my own heart fully to the love of God so that I may be an instrument of His love reaching the hearts of those around me.
Father, thank You for Your incredible love. It does seem truly unbelievable, but by Your grace I do believe it. I pray that I would be fully useful to You so that as many as possible may come to repentance and faith as well, for a massive influx into Your family, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!