Updated: Aug 5
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23)
We recently celebrated Memorial Day. We enjoy this day as an unofficial first day of summer, part of a holiday weekend, a BBQ day (even in the rain), a day to spend with family and friends. But we also remember our fallen heroes, and indeed, any veteran who served for us. My father and father-in-law served in the Navy for a few years, and my uncle Merle served in the Navy many years – he gave up a lot of time with his family, and served his country well.
It is important to remember. I was recently reading a devotional, Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening (Biblegateway.com), and he speaks of a verse Jeremiah writes: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope…” (Lamentations 3:21) He argues that we must remember the past, but see it with God’s help, and see that God is with us, and has been with us, always.
We can remember the “wormwood and the gall” (Lamentations 3:19) – things we’ve done wrong, or injustice perhaps that was done to us – and it can humble us and strip away our pride, but God’s Spirit can then swoop in and heal us. Essentially, God will turn ashes into beauty. The beautiful passage in Isaiah 61:3 says,
[God will] provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Spurgeon reminds us to think of our past and present with the reality of God’s presence and grace that has flowed through our entire lives. We must remember. Ah, memory. I have a good short-term memory, especially at work. Someone orders a one-third decaf, triple grande soy stirred extra hot no foam extra caramel caramel macchiato in a double cup, and I can repeat it back to them, no problem. (Ask me in 10 minutes and I might not remember it.)
However, my long-term memory is not as good. Sometimes I have a hard time recalling what I did last year, or last week. My husband has a great memory – by recalling moments in our past, he helps me relive them, and I love that! On a different note, my not remembering certain things means I can watch a movie like Jurassic Park 3D in a theater (having not watched it for some years) and scream like a little girl when the dinosaur is running toward me. More enjoyable when you don’t know what’s coming! I also have a very common memory glitch, where my brain resets when I enter a room – now, what was I getting in this pantry?
But I love that image of looking back on one’s past – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and seeing it with God’s grace. God has always been there with us. God is right here, still covering us. We aren’t necessarily revising history, but looking at it from a different perspective. God doesn’t want us to live with shame, or regret. He does want us to be humble and lay down our pride. And then the beauty begins.
Our old dog recently passed away from cancer and that whole process was hard. Although I miss him, I am filled with warmth, remembering the good times we had with him. Gus was a very affectionate (read: needy) dog (haha), and I feel blessed by God for the time we had with him, some good family memories. Thinking about him gives me a sense of God’s grace over our family.
With our unofficial start to our summer on Memorial Day (even if it won’t feel like it for awhile), let us remember that God is with us as we work and play and rest. I am going to Montana next week and am looking forward to hiking on the beautiful trails and just relaxing with family and friends. Some of the summer will be challenging – life always is – but I am looking forward to remembering and realizing that God’s grace will spill over and nourish us.
When the warm weather ends, let us look back, making this a summer to remember.
Kelly can be reached via email.