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?”
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.” (NIV)
Remembering can be bittersweet. We can remember good times and face the sad fact that they will likely never be repeated or recaptured. We can look back to times when we were full of energy and enthusiasm and wonder where it has all gone. Or like the Psalmist, we can recall times when God seemed so real and the possibilities seemed endless.
It can all lead to a sort of despondency, well expressed in this honest Psalm. We can be so immersed in the concerns and confusion of the present moment that the memories of when things were better can be causes of pain not pleasure. We can be so worried about what the future holds that we forget what the past showed us.
And it is here that the Psalmist reminds us of the necessity of remembering. He calls to mind the mighty acts of God in the past, objective realities which speak into his subjective reality. He puts his present despondency into a wider context by remembering. The past acts of God remind him that he can trust this God in the present and the future.
A grasp of the mighty works and faithful words of God recorded in Scripture can be a source of welcome light in whatever darkness we face. These words and works are like solid shapes amidst the shadows that lurk across our lives. They are what we cling to when everything else is falling around us.
Which is why we must never forget to remember.