Don’t bring up the bad times.
Don’t remember when things were beyond your grasp.
Forget about your difficult past.
Dismiss those recollections of betrayal and loss.
Deny the pain.
There’s no need to rehash what’s been done – after all, it’s done.
Have you ever heard these words or have you ever recited something like them to yourself?
There was a time in my life when emotional pain was my constant companion. Ooooh. Ooooh. Ooooh. This kind of open-wound, raw pain laid me bare. It was a mammoth, mammoth effort to keep myself together as I didn’t want anyone – especially my staff and students to know how sad and broken I was at the time. I needed to be strong and resolute in my teaching game so my students would not be impacted by my shattered heart. Honestly, if it would have been solely up to me, I would have buried those painful memories deep, deep, deep.
But, it wasn’t up to me.
In the midst of that agonizing time, my God was there. He was working. Hard. And I can say without a doubt, that without my God’s care and replenishment during that desperate, lonely, barren-desert time, I would have disintegrated. A desert expanse is no place to wander aimlessly. Dehydration, exhaustion, depression, and other hazards have the potential to inflict permanent, life-impacting harm. The Lord proved to be my daily support and guide to help me maneuver the jagged and harsh landscape of pain and despair. My God and Heavenly Father proved to be my provider, my protector, and my providence. He led me out of my desert experience into an amazing life of deeper communion and trust in Him.
There was a time when another group of people were engulfed in their own desert experience. The Israelites had been delivered from their captors in Egypt and found themselves walking in circles. Due to their pride, self-conceit and lack of trust in their God, their trek to the Promised Land took an aimless course. Decades of deliberate hardship followed. Finally, forty years later, they had learned lessons of love, devotion, submission and faith. It was at this point of entry in which their Lord and Heavenly Father encouraged them to remember their difficult, faith-stretching journey:
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
New International Version, Deuteronomy 8: 1-3
Some of us are slow learners.
It took 40 years of missteps for them to finally find their God-honoring, right steps.
For years they had been an unfaithful, inconsistent, rebellious, perverse and ungrateful crowd. Who would ever want to admit such a thing about themselves?
In the beginning, they wouldn’t. It took a desert wilderness to bring this prideful behavior to light. Over time, they acknowledged their sin and even more importantly, they acknowledged their need and reliance upon their God. With wholehearted love and devotion, the Israelites finally reached a place where they viewed their hardships, struggles, and adversities as opportunities to be drawn closer and nearer to their God and could now, hear Him well.
And what did God say?
Remember your place.
Remember your pride.
Remember your tests and challenges.
Remember your hunger and thirst.
Remember your need.
And remember that I, the Lord your God, was with you with each step – preserving you, protecting you, providing for you, preparing you – for your next steps in life.
This is true of me. When I was hurting, afflicted with pain almost beyond what my heart could bear, my God was there. And as I leaned into this time of suffering, and submitted to learning all I could through it all, my God led me out of that trouble into a joyous, hope-filled life! He taught me how to live and how to increase in love, increase in compassion, increase in joy, and increase in mercy and grace. My heart was broken to expand and enlarge to a greater capacity in order to love my God and to love others more.
I wouldn’t have grown and changed without that period of adversity.
Therefore, I remember.
I remember that time, that place, that me.
I’m not afraid to bring up that terrible time of betrayal and loss – because in doing so, I know how far I’ve come by the grace of my God. I was broken – to love.
I will remember when things were beyond my grasp.
I will not forget about my difficult past.
I refuses to dismiss myrecollections of betrayal and loss.
I will not deny my pain.
And I’m grateful.
And you? Will you choose to remember?