Pandemic. Unemployment. Cancer. Suicide. Gender confusion. Leaving the faith. Foolish leaders. Abuse. Domestic violence. Racism. Sexism. Slavery. Hunger. Murder. Hurricanes. Wildfires. Discord. Fear. My world seems upside down. I am sad and pierced. What do I do with this?
First I stand still in sadness, lament and engage in life-giving activities. Then, lest I am tempted to get stuck here, I am challenged to persevere through my weariness. Next, I turn back to Psalm 77 for more instruction. After his own period of lament, the author continues:
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.Psalm 77:10–12 NIV
Remember. Remember what God has done in the past. I first explored this word—zakar in Hebrew—indirectly through my study of “pondering” in Favored Blessed Pierced: A Fresh Look at Mary of Nazareth.
We are told to remember around 160 times in the Bible, the second most common Biblical command after “do not fear.” Never have I felt the need to remember as I have during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. I am fascinated by stories of the Spanish flu, life during the world wars, the great depression, the polio outbreak, the suffragette and civil rights movements, and so on. Many tough and uncertain times have gone before us. This isn’t our first “rodeo” as the saying goes. We haven’t been wiped out. We are survivors.
But what about during my own lifetime? What have I seen God do that I can remember?
So, I turn to the stack of letters that my mother saved—the ones I wrote every week (or at least every month) to my parents during my young adult years. I search for a time when life was hard and yet God was good.
From 1991–2003, my husband and I served in Southeast Asia as global workers with a faith-based mission agency. I now know that any cross-cultural experience is stress-filled, but the last six years of my stint were wrought with struggle, sickness, death, and political and religious unrest. The most intense period took place during the year 2000—twenty years ago. My team and I faced riots, evacuation, fear, and the death of a teammate.
But remembering is not enough. The Psalmist goes on to give the injunction to tell of God’s works and wonders to each new generation.
“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.”Psalm 89:1–2 NIV
So for my own grieving and growing process, I am going to remember God’s love and faithfulness to me twenty years ago. Then I’m going to tell those stories because:
“We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”Psalm 78:4–7 NIV
As I look back and recount those days (stay tuned), I hope to remind myself that the God who was faithful and good to me then will be with me and continue to act according to his character in the days to come.
What deeds of the Lord do you need to remember and tell?
Please tell your story in the comments below. Let’s remind each other of “the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done” (Psalm 78:4 NIV). Let’s sing of his great love and make known his faithfulness to the next generation.
Lord God, as I remember your love and faithfulness to me twenty years ago, please use these stories to bolster my faith and that of the next generation.
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