People choose strange names for their children. From the silly (I know of a girl born on the way to the hospital who was named “Carsita”), to the dark (like the son who was called “Adolf Hitler Campbell”, and his sister, called “Aryan Nation”); names given to kids are often a commentary about the values, the follies, and/or the bigotries of their parents.
In certain parts of India, girls can have the unhappy experience of being called: Nakushi. This is the name some parents give newborn girls when they were hoping for a boy instead. Local superstitions include the idea that if they give a daughter this name they will reverse the curse of having girls, and increase their likelihood of a boy the next time.
The name Nakushi means unwanted; which means that these precious girls are labeled from birth with parental disappointment. Theirs is the tearful sorrow of being reminded every time they hear their name, that their parents wish that they had been someone else. No wonder, then, that in October, 2011 when the government gave them permission to change their names, 280 girls and young women seized the opportunity, and became Nakushi no more.
We All Need a Name Change
We all need a name change. Conscience (that can beat us up brutally), culture (that esteems looks, wealth, IQ, and coolness above all else), people (sometimes including those who should want us the most), and Satan (through the accusing assaults of hell) can all scream Nakushi in our face. We can feel like people don’t want us, God doesn’t want us, and even we don’t want ourselves.
Ancient Israel knew the feeling. They felt 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 the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”
These people had a name change and it made all the difference. They were Forsaken and Desolate no more. They became in the deepest, surest, most secure sense, Married and God’s Delight; his beloved people.
Fellow believers and sufferers: you’ve had a name change, too. We need to know this and feel this. God’s name for us is not Nakushi. It is not Desolate or Forsaken. Instead, it is My Delight Is in You. His new name for us is Married: The Bride of Christ; for he rejoices over us in love. So we need not feel forgotten or forsaken or unwanted or unloved any longer.
How Christmas Changes Our Name
But because guilty and fearful insecurities are not easily overcome, we may be thinking, “Lord, how do I know that this is your heart for me?” Guilt, shame, and forsakenness do not loosen their grip readily or easily; do they? They make it hard to believe that we are wanted. So we need the assurance of God’s love that we read in Isaiah 43:1-4—“But now thus says the LORD…‘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…’”
Do not miss the descriptors that God uses for us. Redeemed. Called by name. Mine. Precious. Honored. Loved. These are God’s reality, and yours. They reveal God’s heart for us. But you may still wonder how we can know this for sure. We can know it because Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter happened—all of which prove God’s love; a love that so wants us to be his own, that he suffered the greatest sorrows imaginable to redeem us for himself.
This is the bigger message that the prophet offers us. Isaiah predicts Christmas in Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 9:6-7. Then he predicts Good Friday in Isaiah 53:3-7. Then he predicts Easter in Isaiah 53:8-12. God became Emmanuel to be with us; then a man of sorrows to die for our sins; then the Victor who conquered death to share his blessings with us. Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter change our name from Forsaken to My Delight. Indeed, they change everything!
The Singing Voice of God
This is a word to us all, no matter what we may be feeling right now. How deep are the waters of your disappointment, disease, abandonment, or grief? How fierce is the fury of your divorce, or the anguish of that betrayal? How lonely is your dark dreary path? How guilt-stricken is your conscience? How much do you feel betrayed by all; forsaken even by God?
Be sure of this, you who trust in Jesus: God loves you with all his tender, joy-filled being. He delights over you with a Bridegroom’s pleasure, and sings over you with unceasing delight. May it be that somewhere in your depths you will hear his singing voice, so that his love might fill your spirit with courage and your hands with strength.
“On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:16-17).
In other words, we are Nakushi no more; and we will be, never again