When we forget something, we think of it as a memory glitch—and it can be. Sometimes, I wonder if I’ve lost IQ points over the years I’ve stayed at home with my kids. Too often, I struggle to unearth simple words or concepts that I think I should remember—like the names of people whom I’ve just met, the spelling of words like “congratulations” or “achieve” (I always have to remember “congrats” first and “i before e except after c”), the formula for the area of a triangle (but today, I can happily tell you it’s 1/2 B x H because I have two kids working in Algebra), or how to conjugate in Spanish. Ladies, if you need some encouragement about your own problem of forgetting, know that your ability to remember is plastic, not fixed, which means it can be shaped or molded (check out this article).
But forgetting is not always a mental hiccup.
Sometimes forgetting is intentional; like we may determine not to care about something that has proven painful to us. I’m a ruminator and a world class rememberer when it comes to slights, offenses, and attacks. Letting go of negative memories can be good for people like me. On the other hand, it’s bad if we go around crossing difficult people off our Christmas card lists because they got in the “forget” column. By the way, do y’all still send Christmas cards? It’s on my holiday to-do list every year, but I usually forget to get it done (see below).
If we forget to do a task, it can be due to inattention. When my kids forget to bring their dirty clothes to the laundry room, despite daily reminders, it probably shows they don’t really appreciate the value of clean laundry and maybe that I need to “help” them by going on a laundry strike! You can read more about the definition of forgetting here.
To Forget Not
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits…
(Psalm 103:1-2, ESV).
Today, for this moment, let’s stop and think about what it means when God says, “Forget not.” God wants us to know Him. And yet, so often we can get wrapped up in our own lives—our difficulties and busyness, our feelings and responsibilities—that we forget Him. We forget that He is our portion, our everything (Lamentations 3:24).
In the light of eternity, nothing matters more than our covenant relationship with the Lord. Temporary and urgent tasks might threaten to overwhelm us—the contentious teacher conference, our broken dishwasher, a flat tire, that Christmas card list, an irregular mammogram, your husband’s lost job, a late house payment—but none of these defines us or marks us, spiritually, eternally.
On the other hand, our relationship to Yahweh, Creator of the Universe, as made possible by Jesus Christ, and developed in us through His Holy Spirit is central to our identity. Through the Holy Trinity, we are loved, chosen, pursued, adopted, confirmed, made right, redeemed, sealed, consecrated and made holy, indwelled, and kept for all time. God is good!
But sometimes we forget.
If you are a ruminator, like me, God knows you. He knows that your thoughts can work against you. Our regrets and failures, people who have betrayed or abandoned us, the ways that God’s plans have disappointed us—all of these can fill our minds and hearts with darkness. They can cause us to forget God’s faithfulness. But forget (SHAKACH) not all His benefits… (Psalm 103:2).
We forget. But He teaches us how to remember His faithfulness.
[In Psalm 103] David is…communing with his own heart, and he is no fool that thus talks to himself and excites his own soul to that which is good. Observe, how he stirs up himself to the duty of praise…It is the Lord that is to be blessed and spoken well of; for he is the fountain of all good, whatever are the channels or cisterns; it is to his name, his holy name, that we are to consecrate our praise, giving thanks at the remembrance of his holiness…
Remembering God’s goodness makes us glad. Matthew Henry’s words bear repeating, “He is no fool that thus talks to himself and excites his own soul to that which is good.” Scripture agrees:
It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
Psalm 106:1-4, ESV
I want to delve deeper into Psalm 103, and also into the idea of remembering, which is so central to our faith (and well-being!). But that’s another post, or a whole series. Let’s close today with a reminder (see what I did there?) to forget not.
Make the memory of God’s faithfulness sticky. Today, forget not God’s goodness by writing it down or telling someone else or drawing a picture. And if you want to know more about God’s goodness, my devotional, Curating the Good: Collecting & Displaying Evidence of God’s Goodness, will be available next month, so stay tuned!