Hope for Forgetful People

Lately I’ve been frustrated with myself for how forgetful I can be. Not just forgetting to thaw the chicken for dinner, or move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, or why I walked into this room. I’ve been frustrated with how easily I forget the truth. The Lord has been reminding me of some things this week that I thought I had long settled. So why do I keep forgetting? It is frustrating to be so forgetful.

When I’m confronted with a truth I have forgotten and am failing to believe in my present circumstances, I often feel discouraged. There are truths about marriage I could have repeated to you when I was in the youth group that I still struggle to believe and apply. There are truths about motherhood that I parroted to friends before I ever held my own baby that are now so difficult to hold on to in moments of fear. There are truths about my identity as a child of God that are written in pretty script on lots of journals that I sometimes can’t bring myself to remember. I forget. And I get frustrated.

Why can’t I just figure this out? Why do I have to be reminded over and over of the truths of the gospel? Why do I still struggle with this? It’s enough to make a goal-oriented type-A gal like me throw up her hands in despair. Why can’t I just accomplish this already and move on?!

Because I am forgetful. Because I am broken. Because I need help.

And I’m not alone. Scripture and my own experience tell me that God’s people have a history of forgetfulness. The Bible recounts story after story of the Israelites forsaking the God who rescued them in favor of lifeless idols. Jesus’ disciples too failed to understand who he was and wished instead he would be a king like they expected. We believe, and then we fail to believe.

So what hope is there for us, a people who forget time and time again?

Mercifully, God does not throw up his hands in despair when his people forget. The Bible is full to the brim of God reminding a forgetful people that he is who he says he is and that he is faithful when they are not.

Deuteronomy 5:15 - You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

Joshua 1:13 - “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’

Psalm 78:35 - They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.

Psalm 105:5 - Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered

Psalm 143:5 - I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.

So when I forget, I should not despair. Instead, I lock arms with the many people who have come before me, and I remember. I look to the wondrous works he has done and remind myself that he is my rock, the Most High God, my redeemer. I look to the cross and remember that the God of the universe – the One who created all things – loved me and gave himself for me. I rehearse this story over and over and ask God to help me believe in the midst of my forgetfulness. I pick up my Bible and ask God to teach me, I talk with my friends and ask them to help me remember, and I sing the gospel story in the gathered body of Christ on Sunday morning. The practice of faith is just that - a practice. A habitual process of repeating the truth of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and how that changes everything about me and the world.

I do not despair over how long it is taking me to remember (the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years because of their disbelief, but God still brought them to the promised land). Instead I preach the gospel to myself and praise God that he is merciful to remind me of the things I’ve forgotten. And I keep believing, a little more today than yesterday.

So if you are like me, and you are frustrated that you can’t remember all the things you should, know that God is not frustrated with you. If you put your faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross to make you a child of God, you can rest that your Father wants to remind you. Do not despair in your forgetfulness, but do not stay there. He wants you to look to him, remember all that he has done for you, and walk in that truth.