In certain parts of India, many girls have been given the name Nakushi. It’s a name some parents gave newborn girls when they were hoping for a boy instead. Local superstitions say that if parents name their daughter Nakushi, they will reverse the girl-curse, and they’ll improve their odds for a boy the next time.
Tragically, Nakushi means “unwanted.” These precious girls are labeled from birth with parental disappointment. Each time they hear this name, they’re reminded how dad and mom wished they had been someone else. No wonder that in 2011, when the Indian government permitted them a name change, more than 200 young women seized the opportunity, changed their name to one of their own choosing, and became Nakushi no more.
From birth, we all need a name change. And, in the gospel, that’s what Christ gives us.
We Need a New Name
God once labeled us as “enemies” (Rom 5:10), “strangers” (Eph. 2:12), “rebels” (Ezek. 20:38), “haters” (Rom. 1:30), “impure” (Eph. 5:5), and “ignorant” (Rom. 10:3). We were truly “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). Given our sins’ ongoing, stubborn persistence, we may wonder if he still views us that way, and we can easily label ourselves by such past and present failures.
In addition, people may disparage us as dumb, ugly, nerdy, stupid, old, uncool, evil, or even worthless. And Satan himself accuses us day and night before God (Rev. 12:10). All these voices scream “Nakushi” in our face. Who we are, how we look, and what we’ve done can make us feel that people don’t want us, that we don’t want ourselves, and that God couldn’t possibly want us, either.
Ancient Israel knew this well. They knew what it meant to be forsaken and desolate, no longer loved or delighted in by God. But in Isaiah 62:3–5, God says,
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the LORD delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
Who we are, how we look, and what we have done can make us feel that people don’t want us and even that God doesn’t want us.
God’s people received a name change, and it made all the difference. They were Forsaken and Desolate no more. In the surest and most secure sense, they became the very Delight of God.
Similarly, in Hosea’s prophecy, God says to Israel that he would show mercy to those named No Mercy and that those named Not My People would be called You Are My People instead (Hos. 1:6–8; 2:23).
How Christ Changes Our Name
As Christians, we too have had a name change. Alluding to these prophetic texts, Peter reminds redeemed sinners that these realities belong to us (1 Pet. 1:16–18; 2:9, 10). We who were not a people now are God’s people. We who had not received mercy now have received it. In fact, we’re now a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own cherished possession.
Such is the power of the gospel. We have a new name. In Christ, we are no longer Nakushi. We are not Desolate or Forsaken or No People. Instead, God says, “You Are My People” and “My Delight Is in Her.” His new name for us is the bride of Christ, for he rejoices over us in love. Being his chosen and cherished, we need not feel forgotten, forsaken, unwanted, or unloved any longer.
Can This Be True?
Guilty fears may cause us to doubt: “Lord, how do I know this is true?” The feeling of forsakenness doesn’t loosen its grip willingly. It mocks any hope that we are wanted. We need the assurance of God’s love that we read of in Isaiah 43:1–4:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. . . .
You are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you.
Don’t miss how God describes us. Redeemed. Called by name. Mine. Precious. Honored. Loved. Here is God’s care for us, proclaimed long ago, and demonstrated for us in Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter. God first became Immanuel to be with us (Isa. 7:14; 9:6) and then a man of sorrows to die for us (Isa. 53:3–7). He took the name Victor by conquering death to bless us (Isa. 53:8–12). His life and work prove his unfathomable love. This is how he changed our name from Forsaken to My Delight.
God’s Singing Voice
The promise of a name change is a word to us all, no matter what our current feelings may be. How deep are the waters of life’s disappointment, disease, desertions, and departures? How fierce is the fury of your divorce or the anguish of that betrayal? How lonely are your dreary nights? How guilt-stricken is your conscience? How much do you feel betrayed by all and forsaken even by God?
Don’t miss how God describes us. Redeemed. Called by name. Mine. Precious. Honored. Loved.
May all who trust in Jesus know this well: God loves us with joy-filled affection. He delights over us with a Bridegroom’s pleasure. He sings over us with unceasing delight. May it be that somewhere in your depths and mine, we will hear the Creator-Redeemer’s voice of love singing our name. As Zephaniah promises, “The LORD your God is in your midst . . . he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (3:16–17). May we all come to know that we are Nakushi no more, and in Christ, we never will be again.