Ezer Equipped | The Importance of Remembrance
This is the third January we’ve focused on the spiritual discipline of remembering because we believe it is a vital spiritual practice for God’s people. It seems God knows our incredible propensity to forget, and so the Scriptures are full of the call to remember. Over and over again, God tells Israel to remember him—who he is and what he did for them—and to remember who they are as his people. He even established tangible ways for the Israelites to remember: placing tassels on their robes (Numbers 15:37-41), observing the annual Passover feast (Exodus 12:1-30), proclaiming the story of God to their children again and again (Deuteronomy 6), creating memorials of remembrance (Joshua 4), the public reading of Scripture (Nehemiah 8-9), and rehearsing the truths of God’s redemptive acts through psalms of praise (Psalm 105). Likewise, Jesus gave us a tangible way to remember, rehearse, and proclaim his sacrificial love through our regular practice of the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:7-20).
The spiritual discipline of remembering isn’t naive or shallow; it includes the bitter alongside the sweet. God called Israel to remember his rescue in light of their slavery; his provision in light of their wilderness wanderings; his covenant faithfulness in light of their forgetfulness, sin, and unbelief; his lovingkindness in light of their weakness, suffering, and need. Remembering and recounting the work of God in your life includes both gratitude and lament. This kind of remembrance is essential to the maturing of our faith; it makes our gratitude gritty and substantive. To engage in this kind of remembrance means recounting all the good gifts God gave and the ways you experienced him this year. But it also includes unashamedly telling the whole story of how God’s severe mercy exposed you in times of your own sin, rebellion, and unbelief. It means proclaiming how his strength upheld you in suffering or how he provided for you in times of need. It includes recalling how his grace met you in grief and loss and how his truth sustained you in times of fear and uncertainty.
Uncertainty, transition, or difficult circumstances can be very disorienting. It’s always muddled in the middle, but remembering rightly orients you and frees you from the need to know or be in control. This month, we want to help you reflect on 2021—the good and the hard—with intentionality so that it may become a stone of remembrance in your faith. We’ve provided some specific Scriptures for you to read and a New Year’s resource to guide you in a time of remembrance.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
Grace Church Women’s Discipleship Advisor
Take some time this month to read how the Scripture teaches us to remember rightly. As you read each passage, note the following:
- What circumstances were the people either currently experiencing or remembering?
- What did the Scripture call them to remember?
- How did remembering inform or transform their circumstances?
This Psalm illustrates the intimate relationship between lament and gratitude in the spiritual discipline of remembering.
“And I said, ‘This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.’ But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.”
This chapter recounts God’s faithfulness in getting the Ark of the Covenant and the people of Israel across the Jordan River and into the land he had promised. God gives Joshua specific instructions for how to remember this provision.
“Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ . . . He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”
While exiled in Babylon, Ezra dedicated himself to studying The Book of the Law. When he returned to the ruined city of Jerusalem, Nehemiah asked him to read the Scriptures to the people of Israel.
“But our ancestors were proud and stubborn, and they paid no attention to your commands. They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt.”
The psalmist gives us a pattern of intentional remembrance—one that not only reflects on the goodness and power of our God, but also celebrates all the ways in which God meets us where we are.
“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.”
The Public Reading of Scripture
Bible Project Video
The public reading of Scripture played a huge role in the life of Israel—reminding them of who God is, who they are, what he has done for them, and how they are to live in light of all of that.
“Think all the way back to Mt. Sinai where the Israelites were just rescued from Egypt. They’re no longer slaves and they need a new identity and a new story to live by. So Moses gathers the people together and he reads the Scriptures aloud. He reminds them of where they came from, who they are, and the new future they are called to live for.”
We encourage you to use these conversation starters as a means of self-reflection and for discussion within your community.
- Carve out some time this month to reflect on both the hard and the good of 2021. List them all out on a sheet of paper and reflect on them. Do you notice any patterns or themes emerge? What did this year help you learn about yourself? What did it help you learn about God?
- An Ebenezer means ‘stone of remembrance.’ In the Old Testament, God’s people would build them as a way to remember and retell the story of God’s faithfulness in the midst of their unfaithfulness. What kind of Ebenezer could you create for 2021? Where could you put it? Let it serve both as a visual reminder and a prompt that invites you to retell the story to others.
Scripture warns us not to be just hearers of the Word but to be doers of it as well. All of life is repentance. What is a believable next step God is calling you to take in response to all you’ve learned? Pick one or two of the below steps to take.
- Make it a goal to memorize Psalm 103 this year. Recite to yourself often so that in times of fear, doubt, uncertainty, or suffering you can call it to mind and quiet your soul. Have a friend or loved one do it with you and then share with one another throughout the year how God is using his Word in this psalm to orient you to the truth of who he is and all he has done.
- We have created a New Year’s resource for you. Print out this reflection guide and complete it over the next month. This guide will lead you through a process of reflecting on 2021 and prepare you to move into 2022 with renewed faith and trust in our faithful God.
- In our November newsletter, we linked a journal to help us develop the spiritual disciplines of gratitude and lament. You can download one here or pick one up at your campus. Use this resource to guide you in remembering and recounting God’s faithfulness as you navigate 2022.
Remembrance As A Spiritual Discipline
Sarah Urban, Deeply Rooted Magazine
Podcast, Tim Keller
Anne Kerhoulas, Gospel-Centered Discipleship
Song by Andrew Peterson