Day 11 Psalm 77:1-15
A horrible thing happens to us and we are immediately on our knees, begging God to help us. As soon as everything is better, we go on our way, returning to our day-to-day lives as if nothing had happened – until the next crisis occurs. This is how many people live their lives. In one breath, they curse using the name of God, and in the next moment when they are in “need,” they are crying out to Him. It is as if God is only thought of when things are bad. It’s as if our memories of God are limited to our needs and no more.
Hopefully this is not true for you. But, as the psalmist indicates, it is easy for all of us to default to “crisis prayer.” In fact, when things were going badly, the psalmist began by wondering if God cared at all.
I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
“Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
But the psalmist did come around to remember God as being good.
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
What will it take for us to remember God always and not only when times are tough? What will it take to for us to remember not only to ask of Him but to be obedient to Him? Dietrich Bonhoeffer, while he was in prison for opposing the Nazi regime, noted how our memories are short when it comes to things that matter. He noted how easily we can forget our commitments and our promises.
Something which puzzles me and seems to puzzle many others as well is, how quickly we forget about a night’s bombing. Even a few minutes after the all clear, everything we were thinking about while the raid was on seems to vanish into thin air. With Luther a flash of lightning was enough to alter the whole course of his life for years to come. What has happened to this kind of memory today? Does it not explain why we sit so lightly to the ties of love and marriage, of friendship and loyalty? Nothing holds us, nothing is firm.
Everything is here today and gone tomorrow. Goodness, beauty and truth, however, and all great accomplishments need time, permanence and memory, or else they deteriorate. The man who has no urge to do his duty to the past and to shape the future is a man without a memory, and there seems to me no way of getting hold of such a person and bringing him to his senses.” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1953), 131]
What do you remember about God? Do you struggle to remember Him when things are well? Do you tend to turn to Him more when you are facing a problem, perhaps even complaining to Him about the fairness of it all? What of His call to live upright lives and to stay close to Him in all situations?
God remembers. God is always present and does not forget us. Perhaps we need to examine our hearts and consider if we can say the same. As James reminds us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Draw near to Him in both good times and bad.