Sometimes, we just need to close our eyes and remember the good. Maybe it was a carefree season of childhood years, a vacation at the beach, or simply a time not yet touched by suffering and loss. Do we relish those times with frequent recall of their joy or only lament them as over and done? We would do well to remember the past is never “just the past.” It retains an uncanny ability to influence our present and shape our future.
Just as unpleasant memories can sabotage our well-being so too can pleasant ones fortify our health. We can’t change our past but we can redirect its impact upon our present by choosing what memories we allow to occupy our minds and hearts. Ultimately, these become the memories that most profoundly define our future. This is why Scripture exhorts us to remember the benefits (Psalm 103:2) and goodness (Psalm 27:13) of God. When we do, we strengthen our souls and give theological significance to our memories. Yes, how we think about our past can be the difference between hope and despair.
I remember a difficult time when I was out of work for over six months. As a husband and father of three young children, I felt the pressure to provide and the fear of what might happen if I couldn’t. Between odd jobs and help from family, I never knew if we’d have enough at the end of the month. This season literally brought me to the end of myself. However, it was there—at the end of my rope—where I finally understood the need to rightly steward our memories.
In those days I became desperate for stillness and I craved quiet places because that was where God seemed closest. I learned that when anxiety rolled in and panic bore down, if I’d just close my eyes and remember the goodness of God, He would extend grace. Though nothing would outwardly change, inwardly everything was different. God met me in very real ways, simply because of what I chose to remember.
Today, the choice remains the same—faith or fear—and the challenge continues—to pray or worry. I can never rest on yesterday’s choice, it must be reclaimed afresh and anew today, tomorrow, again, and again. And whenever I do, whenever I remember that divine silence and peace … it covers me and assures me he is near. May God help us never forget our seasons of grace! Next week we talk about the illuminating nature of stillness to reveal our hearts.
What Do You Think?
Do you find it hard to remember the goodness of God when faced with anxiety and fear? Why might this be?