Today is a national holiday which we call Memorial Day. Stores close, government closes, schools close, most families spend it with their grills cooking favorite foods, and some families travel to cemeteries where they plant flowers over the graves of loved ones who served our country in the military. Our entire nation stops what it’s doing and spends time “remembering” – that’s what Memorial Day is all about. For almost forty years, whenever I take a deposition of a witness who is a veteran of our military, I always say on the record, “Thank you for your service to our country.” [In the blog posted on June 9, 2022, “Survivor’s Guilt,” I shared how not serving in the military has affected me.]
When my kids were very small, even in a stroller, I took them to a local cemetery, and we all spread out to find a soldier’s grave which did NOT have flowers on it. We would then plant a flower over that grave, form a circle, and say a prayer thanking God for this person who served our country in the military. One of my highlight memories of doing this came when I overheard my youngest Elena ask her big brother Jon as we searched for a veteran’s grave, “Do you think you will do this with your kids when you have a family?” to which he replied, “Yes, I sure do!” and then I heard the older sister Katrina’s voice, “Me too.” I love that memory!
The Blessings of Remembering can bring us great joy, as the above memory brings to me when I relive it for the hundredth time (if not more!). However, there can be pain and hurt and regret and guilt also with remembering. The biblical practice of remembering how God had acted in the history of His people, along with exhortations to never forget the acts of God, actually permeate the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.
This could lead us to a mammoth bible study on the role of memory in the life of a Christ-follower. I will only cite only one such passage. The 77th Psalm is a cry of pain and fear of being abandoned by God, one of the most emotional crying out to God in scriptures, written by Asaph who was David’s choir director and author of 13 powerful psalms. Listen to how Asaph opens up his Psalm 77: “I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! …You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray… Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? And I said, ‘This is my fate: the Most High has turned his hand against me.’”
And it is Psalm 77:11 which turns this painful recitation around and heads the Psalmist in a different direction: “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord. I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.” [NLT]. The world of Asaph literally turned around 180 degrees and heads in a positive direction when he stopped complaining and started remembering!
The Blessings of Remembering sure did the job for Asaph.
Every day of my life can and should be a Memorial Day, a day when I recall and think constantly about how real God is and how much He has done in my life! It is so easy, all I have to do is remember my doctor telling me 7 years ago, “If you had passed that kidney stone in three days instead of 8 weeks your aggressive cancer would have killed you in six months!” Thank you Lord for The Blessings of Remembering and for a new day of extended life!
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