Fighting Forgetfulness

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds” (Psalm 9:1).

We are a forgetful people.

I’m not talking about standing in the grocery store wondering what that fourth item is that you kept repeating to yourself because you didn’t take the time to write it down (not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything 🙂 ). I’m talking about living in the present circumstances of life, all the while neglecting to reflect on how God has treated you in the past. And while forgetting that fourth item at the grocery store is frustrating (because you have to go back again and get it!), how much worse off are we when we are not recounting God’s “wonderful deeds” to our souls?

We have much to learn here from what King David writes in the above verse. Or maybe I should say, we have much to apply here. I think we know well enough that God has done great things in the past. However, do we take the time to “recount” them? Do we take time to reflect on what those wonderful deeds were and are? And do we let His past kindness and faithfulness encourage and sustain us today and beyond?

Now, I realize that the wondrous deeds of the Lord are “more than can be told” (Ps. 40:5), but nonetheless we ought to take much time to think through the many and varied ways God has done great things. Of course, we could start with what the Scripture records: recounting creation in the opening of Genesis, for example, or the many miracles recorded and prophecies fulfilled in both the Old Testament and the New. Or we could think about what we learn of God’s dealings with sin in what happens with Adam and Eve, the people of the world in the time of Noah, the people of Israel, or King David; remembering the many displays of grace from God to all those same people as well—all of which point to the wonderful remembrance of Jesus being sent by God to graciously deal with sin on behalf of sinners like us.

These “recountings” alone, (brief as they are), are enough to do wonders for us. But then take some more time to recount the wonderful deeds God has done for you personally. Here, too, the list could go on and on if we really slow down and consider carefully. What providential kindnesses do you see as you look backwards in your life? What events, circumstances, people, jobs, successes, struggles, etc., has the Lord brought about which you see in the end were His merciful dealing with you? Especially consider the details that led up to—and included—your being saved from the wrath of God by coming to see the value and beauty in the great provision of Jesus Christ!

What if we did remembered these things regularly (and so much more)? Oh, the help given to us would be huge! It would strengthen us to be able to persevere through the difficult times in life. I know this was true for David, who wrote this Psalm. This is verified in the fact that the context of this writing is his being attacked by enemies (e.g., v. 9: “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble”). You see, for David—and for us—taking time to remember God’s past kindness and faithfulness assures us that He will yet again be kind and faithful, for He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

So beloved, let’s fight against forgetfulness by taking time to reflect on the specific ways God has worked for our good in the past. Let us be sure to center our reflection on the cross of Jesus Christ—the most gracious, foundational kindness of God ever displayed. I think this is what Paul was doing when he wrote these wonderful words:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32).

Do you see the logic here? If in the past God has given us His Son, how will he not also in the future give us whatever else is needed in our lives? Let me say again what I began with and expand on it:

We are a forgetful people, not recalling to mind God’s faithfulness as a means of being encouraged while living in the present. Let us fight against that tendency by conscientiously thinking through His wonderful deeds in the past. Spend some time alone this week and say them out loud, or write them out. Get them in front of you before the Lord and let it strike you how good and faithful He is.

I can’t help but think that in these reflections we will not only be filled with thanksgiving, but also be helped to live today with more trust in God for whatever comes our way next. As the old hymn says, “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”

Indeed, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” our Great God!