The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
— Lamentations 3:22-23
There is a vital relationship between your memory and your anticipation. Memory provides the foundation for expectation. What you remember powerfully influences what you expect. What you know and can recall inevitably fuels what you anticipate.
My favorite restaurant is a local place called The Blue Dog. I have always enjoyed wonderful meals served by friendly staff there. My past dining experiences make me anticipate another excellent meal the next time I eat there.
The same thing is true of gathered worship. The sweet memories of meeting with and hearing from God that believers share together on the Lord’s Day cause them to look forward with great anticipation to the next opportunity to meet.
But it works the other way, too. If you remember bad experiences in a restaurant then it will be difficult to have high expectations when you are invited there for another meal.
What you remember necessarily influences what you anticipate. Because this is true your memory can either work FOR you or AGAINST you when it comes to your spiritual life.
Are you ever haunted by memories? David was: “My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3). The sons of Korah also were plagued by difficult memories: “All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face” (Psalm 44:15).
Remembering your past failures and sins can keep you locked in the dungeon of despair.
John Bunyan graphically portrays this in Pilgrim’s Progress. Giant Despair captures Christian and Hopeful and locks them in Doubting Castle, where they are beaten and tormented for four days. What kept them in that sad condition? It was their memory of their past failures! They had left the right road—despite having been warned of that danger. They also took their ease in by-path meadow and fell asleep when they should have been watching. It was the memory of their many sins that kept them in despair.
Has that ever happened to you? One of my favorite hymns expresses it well:
When I look all around me
And all I can see
Are my mountains of failure and sin
When I’m standing accused
And I’m guilty as charged
And I’ve nothing that I can defend
Those times when you are facing hardships, and you know that they are the result of your own sin and foolish choices. Or the times you look back on opportunities squandered and your mind begins to play the “what if” game.
• What if I had not married so hastily?
• What if I had not committed adultery?
• What if I had stayed in school?
• What if I had not cheated on the job?
• What if I had never smoked that first joint?
Memory can supply the club in Giant Despair’s hand to bludgeon you until you are almost spiritually senseless.
But memory can also be the chauffeur of peace, hope, and comfort to your soul, when, in addition to remembering your sins, it brings back to your mind the mercy and grace of God in Jesus Christ.
What finally delivered Christian and Hopeful from Doubting Castle? It was the memory that they had in their possession a key called promise! When that thought occurred to him, Christian said, “What a fool am I to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk in liberty! I have a key in my bosom, called Promise; that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle.”
He was correct. The memory of God’s grace & of His mercy-filled promises in Christ set them free. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in [Christ]. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
The steadfast love of the Lord cannot ever cease because it has been given to us in Christ. By His life, death, and resurrection, He has sealed and secured it forever for all who trust in Him.
So, what do Christians do when all they can see is their sin? What do we do when we are justly accused with no defense to make for ourselves? We return to the One who has proven faithful throughout all of our life.
I will hope in the One
Crucified in my place
Jesus Christ the Redeemer of men
I will trust in the righteousness
Given to me
By Jesus my Savior and Friend
Trust and hope in our crucified, risen, reigning Savior. Remember Him. Remember His faithfulness in the past. He never forsakes His people. He never has let one of His promises fail. So, regardless of where you are or what you are going through, trust Him now. Trust Him for your future.
Remember His goodness, wisdom and power. And say with Jeremiah, “Great is Your faithfulness.”
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