There are two important words in the Bible that are often used alongside one another. These two words are “remember” and “forget.”
Before my wife Holly and I were married, she lived in Denver while attending graduate school. She earned a master’s degree in Biblical counseling. It was a wonderful program, headed by the popular psychologist Larry Crabb.
One of the primary teachings at the school was the importance of remembering all of the things in life that really matter, and why they matter.
Think about why we celebrate people’s birthdays. We are seeking to remember when a person entered this world. We want them to know that their lives really matter. This is why we still try to make a big deal out of our children’s birthdays, we want them to know that their lives are of great value. Especially to us.
Holly and I put a great deal of effort into celebrating our wedding anniversary every year. We try to go to a special place each year and remember that significant day in our lives.
Why do we celebrate Christmas and Easter? To remember the coming of Christ and His death and resurrection. Think about taking communion. Jesus instructed us to “do this in remembrance of Me.”
In the Bible we are told in numerous passages “to remember the Lord your God.” The implication is clear. We as selfish, sinful human beings have a natural tendency to forget Him. This is why you are told just as many times, “Do not forget the Lord your God.”
Nobel Prize winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote these words about what had happened to Russia, the country he grew up in:
Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
So how do we remember the Lord our God and make certain we do not forget Him? Os Guiness says that in the Bible the theme of remembering God is directly linked to giving Him thanks and is inseparable from faith.
People of strong faith remember, and those who remember are those who give thanks. Those who forget God are ungrateful. This is true for nations as well as individuals.
At the very end of his life, King David gathered the Jewish assembly together. It was at a time when the nation of Israel was at its very strongest economically, militarily, and spiritually. It would be natural for him to gloat and take at least some of the credit. Instead, you see this prayer of acknowledgment, which are some of the last recorded words of David:
So, David blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of Israel our Father, forever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name” (1 Chronicles 29:10).
As you look back at David’s life, there were times when he forgot the Lord his God and the consequences were disastrous. However, he finished strong. He recognized that all of the blessings in his life and in his kingdom came from the hand of God. David remembered the Lord his God by giving Him thanks.