This is an anniversary week for me. Four years ago this week was my Navy retirement ceremony, and 44 years ago this week Helen and I were married. How wonderful to intentionally remember! I remembered by looking again at photo albums and memorabilia from those great days, and I prayerfully reflected on what those events meant to me then, and of the ways the Lord demonstrated His love and favor. I vividly recall our wedding day and how young we were then, and how much I loved Helen then, and how dearly I love her now. Intentional remembering allows us to recall God’s blessings to us, and to celebrate His enduring faithfulness in our lives.
GOD REMEMBERS - Have you had someone ask you to recall a specific person, place, or event in your past, and you knew you should remember it, but as hard as you tried, you could not? Such experiences can happen to us all. But how especially difficult it can be when we are able to recall fewer and fewer of the experiences and blessings we once knew.
Some face this problem daily in significant ways. Perhaps you have experienced in yourself or in someone you love Alzheimer’s disease or some other cause of dementia, which has brought a loss of memory and cognitive ability. As such impairments progress it can become progressively harder to store and retrieve memories of past experiences and events. If you are bearing such a cross in yourself or in someone you love, I pray that you may know with peace and settled confidence that God dearly loves you and He remembers well.
There are a number of places in scripture that say “God remembered”. This is an example of anthropomorphism, which is a figure of speech in which certain traits of finite humanity are ascribed to the infinite God. Such phrases are used to help us comprehend God’s work from a human perspective. When God “remembers” us, He blesses us and reminds us that He will never forget His children or any of His promises to us.
In Isaiah 49:14, the prophet says that even if we should say, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me”, it simply cannot happen. Verses 15-16 declares: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…”, as though you and I are permanently tattooed on God’s hand. Psalm 98:3 says of our Lord that, “He has remembered His steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel….”
Let us praise God that no matter our forgetfulness, our God remembers well!
WE ARE TO INTENTIONALLY REMEMBER – To the extent God enables us, we can intentionally choose to recall His blessings, His promises, and His faithfulness. Such opportunity blesses us immensely, but only as we actually choose to remember.
In my devotional reading today I read Psalms 105 and 106. Both of these psalms speak to this theme. Verse 8 of Psalm 105 reminds us that God remembers: “He remembers His covenant forever, the word that He commanded, for a thousand generations.” People of faith are thus called to hold on to this blessed assurance.
The rest of this chapter and the next invites us to intentionally and proactively look back and remember what God did. In the first 6 verses of Psalm 105 which introduce this theme, we can see five aspects of intentionally remembering the blessings of God. They are: Thank, Proclaim, Rejoice, Seek, and Remember Again:
1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
4 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
THANK – Verses 1 and 2 instruct us to worship God by giving to Him our thanks, by singing to Him our praises and calling upon His name. This is a proactive decision each of us can make, to intentionally take time to appreciate what God has done for us, and to tell Him so.
PROCLAIM – Verses 1 and 2 also urge us to tell somebody what the Lord did, to “make known His deeds among the people”, and to “tell of all His wondrous works”. This too is a proactive, intentional decision, that requires us to open our mouths and tell somebody what God has done.
REJOICE – Having reflected on all that God has done for us, and having been blessed in remembering, verse 3 instructs us to rejoice; thus to “glory in His holy name.” No matter what our circumstances are right now, intentional remembering precludes us from having an apathetic response to the past blessings of God. Rather, we choose to rejoice.
SEEK – Having known the Lord, and having thus experienced His presence and His blessings, does not allow us to be satisfied with previous blessings. We cannot say, “that is enough”. Verse 4 instructs us to keep longing for more of His presence and more of His strength. We are to “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually.”
REMEMBER AGAIN – Intentional remembering means continued rehearsing and appreciating the ways God has blessed us in times past. Verse 5 says, “Remember the wondrous works that He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He uttered.” Verse 6 adds that this instruction is for all of God’s chosen ones, including you and me.
I pray that you will choose to join me in intentional remembering, knowing that God who loves us so and who is forever faithful remembers well; He loves us and remembers all of His promises to us. I pray too that our intentional remembering may include all of these biblical reminders: to Thank Him, to Proclaim What He has Done, to Rejoice in Him, to Seek Him Even More, and to Remember Again our faithful God. Amen.