“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all of your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” -Psalm 77:11
Lately I’ve been thinking about the power of remembrance. This is a theme that seems to run throughout the Bible. All throughout the Scriptures, God calls His people to remember His goodness.
In the book of Leviticus, God appointed weekly and yearly rhythms of remembrance for the people of Israel like the Sabbath and the Passover. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, the Israelites regularly created altars of remembrance to commemorate God’s miraculous works. All throughout the Psalms, David and other writers meditated on the works and wonders of God. They called the reader to remember God’s past faithfulness and dwell on His goodness. Most powerfully, at the Last Supper, Jesus invited His disciples to take the bread and the cup in remembrance of Him.
It’s clear that God calls His followers to be a people marked by remembrance.
There is so much power in remembering God’s goodness.
And there is so much danger in forgetting.
The Israelites repeatedly forgot the Lord and His goodness to them. They cycled through seasons of faithful remembrance and seasons of forgetfulness. When they forgot God, they became captives to idolatry and oppression.
“They did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by His law. They forgot what He had done, and the wonders He had shown them. They did not remember His power— the day He redeemed them from the oppressor.”
-Psalm 78: 10, 11, and 42
Oh, how I see my own heart reflected in the story of Israel. I am so quick to forget all that God has done. And forgetting God’s goodness makes me vulnerable to the schemes of the enemy. I’ve noticed that I’m most vulnerable to anxiety when I dwell on all that seems wrong in the world right now. When I focus my attention solely on tragedy and loss, I can so easily slip into doubt and fear.
However, the opposite happens when I dwell on God’s goodness in my life. I notice the ways that He has been guiding and sustaining my life since the day I was born. I remember the difficult times He has carried me through and his redemptive power to transform even the darkest times. I am struck by His faithful provision in times of need. And most of all, I remember the way He has unconditionally loved me and forgiven my sins.
I want to share several practices that help me to remember and soak in God’s goodness.
Gratitude: I know I wrote about this in an earlier post, but it’s worth mentioning again. Gratitude is a powerful weapon against anxiety and self pity. At the close of the day, I like to take inventory of the day and ask God to reveal His goodness and grace to me. This can include very simple moments like sunshine on my run, a warm cup of tea, or a moment of connection with someone I love. I think that looking for God’s fingerprints in the small things enables us to see the larger patterns of His goodness in our lives and in the world.
Remembering God’s past faithfulness: In difficult seasons, I like to go back and remember what God has done in the past. Reading old journals or even looking at old photos is a powerful way to remember God’s goodness in past seasons of life. I’ll remember gifts and blessings that I’ve completely forgotten about. And I am always reminded of how God redeemed even the most challenging situations. This helps my heart to trust His redemptive work in the world right now, even when I can’t completely understand what He’s doing.
Prioritizing beauty: I love the way that John Eldredge describes the importance of beauty in his book Get your Life Back. He writes:
“Beauty reassures us that goodness is still real in the world, more real than harm, or scarcity, or evil. Beauty reassures us of abundance, especially that God is absolutely abundant in goodness and in life… We often sigh in the presence of beauty as it begins to minister to us— a good, deep soul-sigh.”-John Eldredge, Get Your Life Back
I think that in times like this, simple beauty is especially powerful. And experiencing God’s beauty doesn’t require going to the coast or on a long hike (although that would be nice right now). Beauty can minister to our hearts in simple ways— through the morning light coming through the window, during a short walk around the neighborhood, or even in the melody of a song we love.
I wanted to close with one of my favorite songs by Andrew Peterson. I love his honest and authentic songwriting. This song is such a beautiful reminder to trust God’s goodness even in the midst of difficult times.