Choose Not to Forget What God Has Done
By Barbara Dahlgren
One More Year of Choices
People are forgetful. Maybe that’s why God was continually exhorting them to remember things He had done, or setting up little monuments to help them remember.
In Joshua 4, God told Joshua to choose 12 men, one from each tribe of Israel. They were to take 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan River and place them where the priests who had carried the ark of the covenant had stood. After this was done, Joshua said to the Israelites: In the future, when your descendants ask their fathers, “What do these stones mean?” tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” God did the same miracle at the Jordan River as He had done at the Red Sea. (Joshua 4:21-24)
God had them set up a monument so all people would know that the hand of the Lord is powerful. For generations to come, people passed that pile of stones and knew it represented something God had done. God knew people are forgetful, so He had a reminder in place – a reminder of what He did for them.
When we are in crisis, we forget all that God has done for us in the past. Our only concern is what’s happening immediately. Not only do we have a hard time remembering what God has done, we have a hard time remembering it accurately. We are greatly influenced by time, bias, and suggestion.
Such was the case when the Israelites came out of Egypt. For years they groaned for deliverance because of their unbearable hardships (Exodus 1:8- 22; 2:23; 5:7). However, when God delivered them, they grumbled about how much better off they had been in Egypt. They had already forgotten how miserable they had been.
When they didn’t like how God provided for them, they’d recall their distorted view of the good old days. “Remember the fish we ate in Egypt…” (Deuteronomy 11:5) or “It would have been better if the Lord had just killed us in the land of Egypt! At least there we had plenty to eat.” (Exodus 16:3 ERV) Yes, they may have had fish, but they also had oppressive slavery under cruel task masters, to the point that even their baby boys were killed at birth.
Later, God would tell them to remember when they were slaves in Egypt. Remember that God delivered them to freedom. (Deuteronomy 5:15) Remember what God did to Pharaoh and to Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:18) Remember how God led them through the wilderness. (Deuteronomy 8:2)
This was more than exhorting them just to remember these things; it was telling them to remember accurately. “Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live!” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NLT)
Human memory is flawed. Life, even the Christian life, is not easy, so when times get rough we might imagine it was better before God revealed Himself to us. Not true. We forget how lonely, depressed, angry, hopeless, or void of purpose we felt without God. We forget all God has done for us.
Consider this: Even though we forget the many wonderful things God has done for us, God never forgets us. Fortunately, our salvation is not tied to our faulty memories. God remembers us even when we forget Him. (Isaiah 49:15-16)
“Praise the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” That’s a scripture worth remembering.
Suggestions for practicing this choice…
You may have some little token that reminds you of something special God did for you. Place it where you can see it often to remind you of God’s greatness. When you look at it, thank God for something. Let it remind you that God has done great things for you. (Psalm 126:3)
Continually ask God, “Please help me remember Your love, mercy, kindness, and faithfulness to me and my loved ones, plus all those little prayers You answered immediately and the ones where You wisely did not give me what I wanted because You had a better plan.”
Remember God all day long. When things go wrong say, “Lord, help me remember that You are with me all the time.”
Think about what God has done for you. If the situation arises for you to share it with someone else, then do so. We don’t want to force God on others, but we don’t want to shy away from giving Him the credit due Him either.
When a memory of something God has done for you pops in your head, thank Him. God always remembers us; we want to always remember Him.