I just don’t remember. At least not like I used to. Age has a way of creating forgetfulness in all of us. Not unusual elements of forgetfulness, and don’t get me wrong, there are real, legitimate, medical maladies that have far more devastating and heartbreaking consequences. That’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m just talking about how I don’t remember things that I should remember. It’s a little like Winnie the Pooh, you know, “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff,” and “willy, nilly, silly old bear.” Anyhow, he would have these times when he’d forget to remember something or faced a puzzling problem he’d have to remind himself, “Think, think, think,” as he’d tap his fluffy forehead with his fluffy paw. In fact, a great quote that I can relate to from Pooh creator A. A. Milne says, ““Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?” Man, don’t ask Helen about me in that light … she’d probably say that it happened shortly before our wedding for me. 😎
But that notion is also something we can observe in our everyday lives. It’s certainly something that I encountered in deep ways during our couple weeks in Israel last month. In fact, it’s something that the Bible calls out in our lives in a variety of ways, and I would posit it’s something that stops us as Christians from growing in our faith, conquering our fears, recognizing we’re no longer who we used to be (thank God), and from blessing others with an introduction to the Author and Finisher of our faith.
I was left with this notion as I read through 2 Samuel 5-7, 1 Chronicles 11- 17, and Psalms 1-2, 15, 22-24, 47, 68, 89, 96, 100-101, 105-107, and 132-133 this week. In fact, a nice place to camp out a little bit for the purpose of not forgetting to remember is in Psalms 107. Verses 1-9 …
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. For he has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south. Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
The rest of the psalm continues to do what this first part does … recounting the untold ways God rescued – and continues to rescue – his people. In fact, it resounds with examples that talk about being imprisoned in chains, knocking on death’s door, being in stormy seas and rocked to and fro, etc. Most crucially, though, the psalm rings with the basis for our not forgetting to remember in repeating a number of times, “’Lord, help!’ they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.”
This refrain is what we visually perceived while in Israel, touring multiple sites where God completed deliverance on behalf of His people, where He provided them a “land flowing with milk and honey,” where Jesus performed perhaps innumerable miracles only some of which are catalogued in scripture. When you see that, it’s a call to attention, a reminder to not forget to remember. In a like manner, the writer of this psalm admonishes us to think, think, think and hence, to remember. In fact, I think the fact that we don’t know who wrote this psalm is in itself and interesting notion … in a sense, regardless of who it was they are calling ALL of us to remember. And we all should.
Some of us were hungry and thirsty, either literally or figuratively. Did God rescue you from that? Don’t forget to remember! Some of us were in bondage and imprisoned in chains, either by addictions, challenging experiences or even abuse in our families of origin. Did God rescue you from that? Don’t forget to remember! Some of us were knocking on death’s door, either via disease, poor choices, clinical depression or anxiety. Did God rescue you from that? Don’t forget to remember. Maybe some of us were in stormy seas being tossed around in fearsome waters. Did God rescue you from that? Don’t forget to remember. Okay, perhaps I’ve made my point.
Perhaps the most cogent point, though, is that those of us who haven’t forgotten to remember have a greater purpose in the remembering. Certainly it’s critical for each of us to understand how God has and continues to rescue us from any number of life’s circumstances. But the point in not forgetting to remember is that there are undoubtedly people – at this very moment – who are in the circumstances we once were. I mean, isn’t that likely the purpose of the psalmist writing Psalms 107 to begin with? That is, if I don’t forget to remember God’s deliverance, and I recognize that my deliverance saved me from what you need deliverance from, I can be a means of His deliverance to you! Think of how inordinately more valuable His deliverance becomes then!
His deliverance of a blind man two thousand years ago helps us to trust He can deliver us from our blindness today. His rescue of a woman from the very throws of adultery helps us know that He can deliver us from its horrible throws today. All the demon-possessed that no longer are because of His rescue remind us of our ability through Jesus to overcome our demons today. Most of all, knowing that He was able to rescue all and create a new life and person assures us that He can do the same thing today. Don’t forget to remember!
But perhaps – at least to me – the most powerful aspect of this is that we get to not forget to remember that nothing God does is without purpose. I mean both in the turmoil as well as in the deliverance. I’m not trying to be trite and overly Christian-ize pain and difficulty, but nevertheless God has purpose even in the hardship. In fact, I’d say the pinnacle of evil would be to consider that suffering, pain, tumult, etc., are without purpose. A loving God’s existence dictates that there is a point to the pain. In other words, the fact that God allows us to not forget to remember is an indication of His ability to love us, to grow us, to complete His purpose in us, and to bring us closer in our Christlikeness.
So … think, think, think. And don’t forget to remember. God has rescued His people umpteen times in the historical past. He will rescue us from tough circumstances in the future in accordance with His plan. Most importantly, He has rescued us from eternal death through Jesus. That, my friends, is something to never forget to remember … and to remind others they can also.
Soli Deo gloria!