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2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Exodus 16: 2-3 NIV
14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Genesis 9: 14-15 NIV
12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. 14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. Exodus 12: 12-14 NIV
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. Deuteronomy 5:15 NIV
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Luke 22: 19-20 NIV
Memories are pretty important, wouldn’t you say? The ability to recall the past gives our present interactions context and meaning. Without memories, it would make it difficult to relate to the people we’re close to. We’d always be starting from scratch. Trying to rebuild relationships with each interaction. Unsure of people we’ve known for years. People who’ve proven their love to us. We would be strangers over and over again.
Seems like a strange and unfortunate existence. But isn’t this how we relate to God many times? As if we have no recollection of His goodness in the past. No memory of Him rescuing us from destruction. Every interaction with God as though He is a stranger we are hoping will be merciful but whose character we don’t know. With each trial we face, we behave as though we don’t know our Father. We experience some sort of spiritual amnesia that wipes away all memory of God’s track record of grace, mercy, forgiveness and kindness throughout our lives.
The Israelites were the same. Scripture tells us that they had just witnessed one of the most amazing miracles in history. God parted the Red Sea so they could walk into freedom on dry land. As soon as they had passed through safely, God caused the Red Sea to revert to its previous state, killing the Egyptians who sought to bring them back into captivity. How amazing it must have been to witness God’s hand of deliverance! To be able to see His presence in the form of a cloud and fire, with them every step of the way. Surely after experiencing that, there would be no doubting God ever again! Well, the story goes on that soon after being in the wilderness the Israelites became hungry. Since they couldn’t perceive a way to get food in this desolate land they panicked and complained. They even longed for their days of slavery and the food they had in Egypt! They grumbled saying that Moses must have brought them out there to die. Having just been spared from death in the most dramatic way, they still doubted that God would care for them.
We see from this story just how fickle we humans are. That no matter how grand God’s acts of love and deliverance are, we will still be tempted to allow doubt and fear into our hearts. Somehow we manage to forget God’s extreme goodness to us the moment things get tough. But, being the good Father He is, God knows His children. He knows our inclination to forget and worry no matter how great His grace. So He tells us all throughout scripture to do things to help ourselves remember. To set up memorials.
Memorials, whether physical or otherwise, help us to commemorate our experiences of God’s grace. When you think about it, memorials aren’t a foreign concept. We do things every day to help us remember. We hand out business cards. We set reminders in our phones. We create holidays to remember significant events. Much of our lives is set up to help us remember what’s important to us. So too God calls His children to remember His goodness. For some of us physical reminders will work best. Writing down the blessings of God. Making a note of things He’s spoken to our hearts. Times He’s sent people to help us just when we needed it. For others, doing something to remember may work better. Maybe giving tithe and offering first thing after your paycheck comes in as a reminder that God is your source of provision. Taking time to be grateful in prayer at the end of each day. Telling others of God’s goodness to you like you’re recounting your favorite movie. For each of us, memorials may look different. But the heart behind it is to remember. To guard ourselves from the wicked human tendency to forget God’s proven love. To be fearful and ungrateful at the first sign of trouble no matter how awesome the blessings of the past have been. It’s something we must be intentional about. We have to purpose in our hearts to find ways to remember God’s loving kindness. His tender mercies. The miracles big and small that we experience every day.
May we never forget the goodness of our God. May our experiences with Him be etched in our minds. May we hold the memories of His grace close to our hearts. So that when challenges come, we can stand tall, firm in our faith, knowing that our God will be faithful to care for us once again.
Love & Blessings,