A heart of remembrance in an uncertain world
Remembrance Sunday is both a personal and national opportunity to reflect and think of those we have loved and lost. Nationally, we think about people who have served and sacrificed: war veterans or members of our emergency services, and this year, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Personally, we remember close friends and family members. It can be painful and difficult, but it’s important to make this time our own and harness it for a moment of reflection and quiet in our busy lives.
The act of remembrance is not necessarily religious – it’s a gift for us all: an opportunity for everyone to choose hope. The Royal British Legion red poppy is intended to be a symbol of peace and hope. But for people of faith, there’s another, deeper dimension to remembering.
I’ve noticed that when I focus on my anxieties, I’m vulnerable. But, if I think about how God has brought me out of tough times before and remember the faithfulness of God, hope rises.
There is so much power in remembering God’s goodness, and so much risk in forgetting. Throughout the Psalms, David and other writers meditated on the works of God, compelling the reader to remember God’s past faithfulness and dwell on his goodness.
‘There is so much power in remembering God’s goodness, and so much risk in forgetting.’
Psalm 77:11 says, ‘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.’
God calls us all to be touched by remembrance. We’re living in uncertain times; whether it’s the economy, climate change or conflict, or your personal finances, health or relationships, there is a strong narrative of difficulty that can leave all of us feeling powerless and fearful.
I’ve always been a glass-half-full person, but even I have found myself having to shake off what feels like a heavy weight of anxiety in recent days. I’ve tried hard to turn the dial down on the news on soaring energy prices and the cost of living, and I’ve had to be intentional about remembrance.
The antidote to fear
Psalm 103:2 says, ‘Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.’ David has a clear desire to praise God for all that he has done. I love this psalm as it’s the antidote to fear. Before you panic in the face of things that are outside of your control, just remember: who loves you so much that he forgives all your sins, heals all your diseases, redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion? David is reminding us that God deserves our praise regardless of current circumstances and challenges.
In times of prosperity the Israelites repeatedly forgot the Lord and his goodness to them. They navigated their way through seasons of remembrance and times of complete forgetfulness. When they forgot God, they became captives to idolatry and oppression. The greater God’s faithfulness to his people, the less was their gratitude to him:
‘I’ve tried hard to turn the dial down on the news on soaring energy prices and to be intentional about remembrance.’
‘When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.’Hosea 13:6
‘They did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law. They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them… They did not remember his power—the day he redeemed them from the oppressor.’Psalm 78:10–11, 42
A constant theme
Remembrance is a constant theme throughout the Bible. All through the scriptures, God calls his people to remember his grace, love and kindness towards us. This is because he knows our frailty. Without this continual reference point, we’re susceptible to succumbing to our feelings and choosing despair rather than hope in times of trouble, or to hoard rather than share in times of shortage and economic threat. So, in this time of uncertainty, no matter how difficult it is, it’s vital to remember how good our God is and that his faithfulness is towards those who fear him. When we pause, reflect and get quiet before God, we can hear him whisper grace, mercy, hope and peace into the world.
In the book of Leviticus, God marked weekly and yearly points of remembrance: the sabbath was a weekly marker to remember how God rested on the seventh day, and Passover was an annual reminder of how God delivered the Israelites from Egypt.
A rhythm of remembrance
Having Remembrance Sunday set aside once a year to pause and reflect is great, but my hope is that I’m consistently able to cultivate a rhythm of remembrance in my life, to always be thankful and grateful.
I remember not only what God has done, but the people he’s brought into my life in different seasons to be a blessing to me. Most of all, I remember the way he has loved me unconditionally and forgiven me repeatedly.
‘Most of all, I remember the way he has loved me unconditionally and forgiven me repeatedly.’
The truth is no one knows what the future holds for our nation; the news at the moment fuels anxiety and fear. But a heart of remembrance is redemptive: it invites God’s redeeming interpretation of events into our lives, and helps us to trust that he will work every situation out for our good. This means we can face the future with confidence knowing that he is the same God yesterday, today and forever.
We are not at the mercy of news headlines. We serve a sovereign God who is never surprised by our circumstances. He knows the problems we face today and is in control of our tomorrow.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.