To most of us, the story of the Israelites is pretty familiar. We've grown up listening to the story of how God brought His people out of immense suffering and turmoil in Egypt. And not only did He rescue them from those horrific circumstances, but He did so through a series of miraculous events and demonstrations of His power. Having seen that, I bet most of us think that we would be able to forever trust God after that. We think we would always have faith and never doubt.
Unfortunately, the truth is that most of us are a lot less full of amazing faith than we would like to be. The truth is that after the adrenaline of the escape wore off and things got hard again, the Israelites 1) rewrote history to pretend that their life in Egype wasn't so bad and 2) forgot how God had rescued and provided for them. Don't we often do the exact same thing? God brings us out of difficulties and trials, we fall to our knees in thankfulness when things get better, and then we promptly freak out and lose heart at the next sign of trouble that appears on the horizon.
One of my posts during the CMBA Blog Challenge talked about the importance of not dwelling on your husband's sins and the need to sometimes do what I'm calling "mental gymnastics" to retrain your mind and take thoughts captive. My husband and I had some pretty tough issues to work through when we got married nine years ago and in many ways, I've had to make the sacrifice of the memories of our very early years of marriage because it brings me into the "depths of despair" for absolutely no truthful reason.
Sometimes you really can't think about the past at all for a while but my sister in law brought up a great point in one of her comments: Sometimes we should remember, but only in the context of what God has done. Here's what she said:
One thing I "enjoy" (that might not be the right word because I'm not sadistic) about looking back on those years is seeing how God has changed and molded both of us. Praise him for that!! I wouldn't want to erase those years from my marriage, or my memory, because that is where the true Gospel is displayed! Not saying we should dwell on them in a bad way (or keep records of wrongs), but I do believe we need to train ourselves that when we think back to those times, if we start heading in that downward spiral, we need to remind ourselves of the truth of the present day. We need to pray for God to help us clearly see that truth and praise him for what he brought us out of and how he is still perfecting us. I don't think we need to wish those years away or even view them as wasted time. It may not be what we expected or anticipated, but it's the beauty of God displayed in our ugliness and dark times. That truly is the Good News!! :)If you're living in a difficult marriage or struggling with what seems like a hopeless situation, we need to redirect our minds away from the impossibility of our circumstances and towards a faith-filled remembrance of what God has already done in our lives and the lives of others. That's one reason why God has given us His written word, so that we can have a record of how He has worked throughout history.
What has God done in the past? Think about the Bible stories you know from heart. God brought the Israelites out on bondage and (eventually) into the Promised Land. He gave them water from a rock! He sent a weird fluffy substance from heaven to feed them. He sent a shepherd boy to kill a bullying giant with tiny stones. He used Esther to save an entire people from annihilation. He sent His own son to die on a cross in fulfillment of centuries of promises and prophecies. Go read the twelfth chapter of Hebrews if you want a whole ton of examples. Actually, go read the entire book of Hebrews; it was written to encourage believers who were tempted to abandon their faith in the face of intense persecution.
What has God done in the lives of those around you? I've seen Him transform marriages. I've seen Him give a baby to couples struggling with infertility. He's cured my pastor's cancer. He has provided for the financial needs of friends. He has protected people from dying in horrible car wrecks. He saved a friend from dying or being maimed due to a severe infection. He has changed the hearts of those who had been rebelling against obedience to God.
What has God done in your own life? He's given my husband - a realtor - so much business in a tanked real estate market that he hired an assistant to help him keep up with it all. I have three healthy sons, one of whom is probably only alive because God has allowed people to come up with ways to deliver babies via c-section. God had used a difficult marriage to give me compassion for other women struggling in that way. He's used the confrontations of others to make me aware of how certain sins were hindering me from an abundant life. He's used my children to grow the fruits of the Spirit in me, those elusive qualities that we all aspire to have.
Every single one of us - if we really thought about it - has situations where we have seen God work, if only in hindsight. You are not some exception of Christian experience where God has not been involved in some way in your life. When we're in the midst of a real hardship, it's so easy to be blinded by sadness, hopelessness, frustration, worry, or anger. It's easy to throw a little pity party and wallow in the pit of despondency. Once again, we need to strengthen our muscles and get working on some more mental gymnastics. Put off the despair and put on remembrance.
Where have you seen God working in your life? Let's glorify Him with our remembrance today. Share in the comments if you're comfortable.
Sharing with: The Alabaster Jar, The Better Mom, Graceful, The Wellspring, NOBH, Monday's Musings, Covered in Grace, Matrimonial Mondays, Time Warp Wife, Far Above Rubies, Growing Home,