In the book of Deuteronomy, God commands his people to remember. In fact, he commands this thirteen times. Remember who God is. Remember what he did for you. Remember his promise.
The Israelites weren’t particularly good at remembering. Hiking through the desert, they were more focused on the present concerns of hunger, thirst, and exhaustion than the heritage of their people. If anything, they would be looking ahead to the promised land, not back to their slavery in Egypt.
Sadly, forgetfulness isn’t unique to the Israelites. Even today, we’re often so focused on the struggles of the here and now or on protecting our goals for the future that we, too, become spiritually forgetful. And like the Israelites, I’ve found that spiritual forgetfulness is detrimental to our relationship with God and our experience of life. It destroys our sense of identity, the strength of our faith, and our courage to face the future.
If we want to experience God more fully and to make the most of our lives, we have to fight spiritual forgetfulness with active remembrance. We need to remember who he is, what he has done, and what he will do.
1. Remember Who God Is
There are some ways in which God is God and we will never be the same as him. As intimidating as words like omniscient, self-sufficient, and infinite may sound, these truths about God help explain our purpose. Because God is so much greater than us, and because he is our Creator, we live and breathe to worship him. He is our incomprehensible Lord.As intimidating as words like omniscient, self-sufficient, and infinite may sound, these truths about God help explain our purpose. Because God is so much greater than us, and because he is our Creator, we live and breathe to worship… Click To Tweet
And then, there are also special details of God’s character that extend his love to us in a more tangible, personal way. Not that we can truly understand the hows, but there are some truths about God that are especially resonant when we’re at our weakest.
Here are a few of my favorites:
God is sovereign.
He invented and formed the universe and continues to sustain it, maintaining countless physical variables with incalculable precision. He had the whole story written before he even turned the first page. He controls every detail in the physical and spiritual realms, and He is really and truly watching over every minute of our lives.
God is compassionate.
Jesus spoke with the outcast woman at the well (John 4), he healed the lepers (Luke 17), and he wept for the sin and destitution of the world (Luke 19, John 11). He cares about each of us, extends grace and offers salvation to each one of us at the cost of his own blood. He could have left us in our sin, but he didn’t. He came to rescue us.
God is with us.
When Jesus was born, everything changed. For the first time since the fall, God inhabited our world and lived among us. But it didn’t stop there. On the cross, the sin that separated us from God was put away once and for all. When it was impossible for us to reach up to God, he came down to us. He made a way for us to be with him, not just for 33 years but for eternity.
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
2. Remember What God Has Done
The apostle John once noted that Jesus did so many things that “the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” if all his works were recorded (John 21:25). And that was just while Jesus was on earth!
Sometimes it’s frustrating to think that no matter how hard we try, we can never learn all there is to know about God. But if we love him, will we ever get tired of knowing him more? How can we delight in him without discovering more of who he is and what he’s done?
Remembering what God has done, especially what he’s done in our own lives, can also be a great stress-reliever. This is something particularly relevant on those days when I get a huge school assignment and have no idea how to do it, or those nights when I just want to hide in a turtle shell but there’s youth group to attend and people to talk to.
I know God can give me the clarity and the peace to handle it. I know he’s there for me, because I’ve seen him answer my prayers countless times before.I know God can give me the clarity and the peace to handle it. I know he’s there for me, because I’ve seen him answer my prayers countless times before. Click To Tweet
But somehow, when I’m sitting in that classroom with red ink all over my paper or in the car on the way to a Christmas party, I forget. I forget all the times God made my heart stop pounding and my hands stop sweating, how he gave me people to talk to so I’m not sitting awkwardly in the corner, or how he gave me air to breathe.
And just as I forget the little things God has done for me, I’m equally good at forgetting the big thing, the one thing that completely transforms who we are: the gospel.
It’s tempting to “move past” the gospel, to think we’ve heard it enough times that we don’t need to hear it again. But the truth is, apart from the work of Jesus on the cross, we’re rotten stinkin’ sinners who have no place in the Kingdom of God, no hope in the world.
With God, though, everything changes. Because of the gospel, we’re chosen, adopted, and redeemed. We’re an entirely new creation, loved by God and saved for a purpose: to make him known.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
3. Remember What God Will Do
One of the most valuable types of truth God provides are the promises scattered throughout scripture, both the promises we look forward to and the ones already fulfilled. When we see all the proof of God’s faithfulness throughout every generation, we can be confident in his faithfulness to us today.
Without confidence in the promises of God, what is the premise of our hope? We believe in a God who has delivered his people according to his promise of redemption; our entire destiny rests on his promise of eternal life.
But how can we believe his promises if we aren’t even aware of their existence?
We can’t make it through life without knowing and remembering the promises of God, because without these promises, we have no hope. Hope holds on to what we cannot see, believes in the things yet to come, persists as the anchor for our souls (Hebrews 11:1, 6:19).
Whether you’re struggling to see light in the dark, peace in the chaos, or joy in the pain, the answer is simple: remember. Remember who he is, remember what he’s done, and remember what he said he will do. Place your trust, your hope in him.
Life is not a walk in the park. Some days you’ll be cowering in the trenches or crawling through No Man’s Lands. You’ll face fear and pain and loss and you’ll come out with scars on the other side.Life is not a walk in the park. Some days you’ll be cowering in the trenches or crawling through No Man’s Lands. You’ll face fear and pain and loss and you’ll come out with scars on the other side. Click To Tweet
But you will come out. You will make it through, because Jesus already did. He already faced every pain and all the weight of our sins and he came out on the other side in glory, and he promises the same for us.
And that’s enough.
The one who was beaten and crushed by our iniquities, killed for our transgressions, has risen from the dead. Jesus has risen, and so will we.
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
The truth doesn’t always soothe our emotions or settle our temporary circumstances, but it does dictate our spiritual, eternal state. Eternity may seem far away, but when it comes, it will last infinitely longer than any struggles we face here and now.
So as hard as it gets, regardless of what you’re feeling, please don’t neglect the truth. Know it, remember it, and hold on like your life depends on it.
God is good. He both lived and died for you, and he is risen. And one of these days, when he sees fit, he’s going to take you home.