The Medicine of Memory
Amid this period of uncertain waiting and heightened anxiety, Pastor Eugene encourages us to remember God’s grace and goodness.
It isn’t always easy to remember to take our medication regularly. This is the reason why some of us may use pill boxes to organise our medicine according to each day of the week. It is a way of ensuring that we do not forget to take our daily dose, just as the doctor ordered.
Remembering is also crucial for our spiritual health. As Pastor Oliver pointed out from Psalms 42 and 43 in his sermon last weekend, it is important that we continually remind ourselves of God’s grace and goodness, especially in tough times. Experiencing spiritual dryness, the psalmist cries out: “My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you” (Ps 42:6). Both psalms are punctuated by this repeated refrain: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Ps 42:5, 11; 43:5)
But we can become so caught up with life’s daily grind that we lapse into a kind of spiritual forgetfulness. In this period of uncertain waiting and heightened anxiety, worries can overwhelm our hearts and minds. Fear grows when faith shrinks. Psalm 78 depicts the danger of spiritual forgetfulness from Israel’s history: “How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe.” (vv 38-40)
For this reason, Scripture constantly urges us to remember who God is and what He has done through his Son. A sanctified memory is medicine for the malaise of spiritual forgetfulness. In Psalm 77, for instance, difficult life circumstances have led the psalmist to question if God truly cares: “Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” (vv 8-9)
How, then, does the psalmist battle the rising tide of discouragement in his heart? He says, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” What are we to remember?
We call to mind God’s character. The psalmist turns his prayer into praise by extolling God’s holiness and greatness: “Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?” (v 13) Amid unpredictable and variable circumstances, God’s unchanging character is our sure foundation. We can trust Him to do what is right, for His glory and our good. “(The Christian) trusts him where he cannot trace him, looks up to him in the darkest hour, and believes that all is well,” said Charles Spurgeon.
We recall God’s salvation. “You with your arm redeemed your people.” (v 15a) The psalmist looks back on the great redemption that God accomplished for Israel through the exodus from Egypt. God powerfully rescued His people from slavery and death. Living on this side of the cross, we have the privilege of recalling an even greater redemption: Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed (1 Cor 5:7b). We recall how God’s beloved Son has laid down His life to save us from sin and death. Jesus was crucified to pay the penalty for our sins. He rose in triumph over death. In Christ, we have forgiveness and life. As we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection for us, our hearts are filled with thankfulness and worship.
To remember means to speak gospel truths to ourselves. There is no greater assurance for our souls than to know that God has given His Son for us and for our salvation.
In more “normal” times, gathering regularly for corporate worship helps us to remember God’s ways and works. Singing, praying, giving, hearing God’s word and observing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper together are means of grace for our edification and encouragement. Remembering is more challenging now, however, given the pause in our gatherings.
Therefore, let’s be diligent to continue in God’s word. God has revealed Himself to us through His word, which points us to Christ. Therefore, by regularly spending time in Scripture, we are being reminded of the gospel. Be refreshed as we immerse ourselves in God’s truth. Press on in speaking the truth in love to one another.
Let’s remain connected with the church community. We may not be able to gather, but let’s be intentional and creative about connecting with one another. For example, I know of a number of care groups that meet via Zoom to share and pray after watching the services online. Our spiritual wellbeing depends on such mutual encouragement and accountability, particularly in times of social isolation. When we struggle with spiritual forgetfulness, others can help remind us of the gospel.
Let’s also persevere in prayer. When life hurts, we may be tempted to retreat into ourselves and suffer in silence. But God invites us to move towards Him and to bring our burdens to Him. When perplexed by pain, our prayers can give voice to our struggles. The psalmist says, “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord.” (Ps 77: 1-2a) Therefore, let’s continue to pray for ourselves and one another. Ask God to show us His glory and give us faith, that we might rest in Him.
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
So, join us for the monthly prayer meeting this Friday (May 28) at 8pm. As we draw near to God and remember His goodness, may He fortify us with the sweet balm of His gospel!
Meeting ID: 890 9907 9298
Do also join us for the livestream of our services this weekend (5pm on Saturday; 9am on Sunday) via Youtube. We’ll be hearing from Psalm 44 about trusting in our sovereign and loving Father, even when faith and reality may not line up.
Looking further ahead, I encourage us to attend Equip in June, which will focus on the topic of The Gospel and Mental Health. Because of the Fall, we are broken relationally, physically, emotionally and mentally. This means that some of us will face struggles with mental health. The Bible speaks to the matter of mental health and offers hope. This Equip class is not only for those with mental health struggles, but also for the rest of the church to learn how to come alongside and help. The first session will take place via Zoom on Tuesday, June 8, 8pm.