Over the years, I have found my memory growing worse. Although I'm only 28 years old, I forget conversations I've had with my husband or specific memories from the past. Call it a symptom of anxiety, part of growing older, or poor listening; I forget often, and I wish I were better at remembering.
Today is Memorial Day, a day where we remember those in the armed forces who gave their lives in service to America. I ask this question with gentleness, but how often do we really view this day as a day to remember? I find that often many, myself included, can view this day as a day off from work or an opportunity to get away. And while those things are blessings, they can distract from the main purpose of this holiday. Remembering is important on days like today, but remembering should be a part of our everyday lives as well.
When we look to Scripture, we learn how memorializing important events was an integral part of the lives of God's people. Some instances were when God designated the Passover as a memorial day for the Israelites (Exodus 12:14) and when Joshua set up twelve stones to memorialize the crossing of the Jordan River (Joshua 4:7). But memorializing doesn't just appear in the Old Testament. Jesus Himself instituted the Lord's Supper as a time to remember the sacrifice He made (1 Corinthians 11:24).
Throughout the Bible we also see God continuously calling His people to remember. For example, in Deuteronomy 6:12, God says, "Be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery." These instances of memorializing and commands to not forget teach us that we should be a people who regularly remember. But why?
Remembering gives us gratitude
Just as Memorial Day motivates our gratitude for those who gave their lives, remembrance fosters gratitude in our hearts. Often, we can grow too focused on the present and the future that we forget the circumstances of the past. But remembering the past helps us to be thankful for the present. We would not be where we are today without the circumstances of the past. And while there are certainly hard and painful events of the past, we can be thankful for the changes and improvements that have been made in light of those events. In the Old Testament, remembering key events like the parting of the Red Sea implored the Israelites to be thankful to God for His great deliverance. And when the tendency to grumble arose, they could meditate on God's past acts to foster gratitude.
For believers today, one of the key events that spurs our gratitude is the death of Christ. Although we are grateful for the faithful service of those in the past, the laying down of others for our country points us to the God who laid down His life for all. This in no way minimizes the sacrifice of others, but Memorial Day should also cause us to remember Jesus, who is the ultimate example of sacrifice. When we do, our hearts are moved to thanksgiving to the God who saved us.
Remembering gives us hope
Often, when the future feels daunting, we forget the importance of looking back. But remembering the past helps us to be thankful for the present and hopeful for the future. David writes in Psalm 103:2, " My soul, bless the Lord, and do not forget all his benefits." Looking at God's past acts of forgiveness and faithfulness gave David hope that God would be gracious still. In the same way, remembering and meditating on God's acts and character cultivates our hope.We need to recall God's faithfulness in the past to help us have hope that He will be faithful in the circumstances of our present and our future. And one of the best ways to recall God's past faithfulness is to remember Jesus. It was out of God's abundant mercy and love that He gave us Jesus to forgive our sin. Christ's past work of forgiveness on the cross is a testimony to God's faithfulness. Remembering the gospel gives us hope. Hope that our sins have been forgiven, hope that the victory has already been won, and hope of a future with God forever.
Remembering God's character and works is integral in the life of the believer. But yet, we will find ourselves struggling to remember amidst the busyness of our day-to-day lives. In light of our tendency to forget, here are several ways to foster regular remembrance.
- Read God's Word
Regularly reading God's Word helps our minds remember essential truths that we need daily. And when we regularly read both the Old and New Testaments, we are able to recall God's faithful acts across history and how His promises never fail.
- Memorize Scripture
The root word for "mem" means to remember, so when we memorize Scripture, we actively remember the goodness of God and what He has done. Memorizing and rehearsing Scripture causes us to recall truth from God's Word as we go about our daily lives.
- Partake in fellowship
One of the greatest gifts for believers is Christian fellowship. As we gather together, we help one another remember as we speak about what God is teaching us and discuss the truths of God's Word. And when we gather at church and partake in Communion, we are able to remember and reflect on the gospel together.
Though our minds are often forgetful, we have God's Word and Christian fellowship to fuel our remembrance. As we take the time to remember today, let us also remember the goodness and grace of God every day.