Remember When?

By Debra L. Butterfield © 2012

Photo credit: GregRon Photography.
Used with permission 

There was a time in my life when, like Narnia frozen in 100 years of winter, my life felt shrouded in perpetual darkness. We've all been there, that place where life is in crisis mode and our prayers bounce back from the ceiling. We wonder, "Why is this happening to me?" and "When is it going to end?" Perhaps you even waiver in your faith. I did. It took nearly ten years before the darkness melted away. I was tempted many times to turn away from God, but the thought of eternity in hell prodded me to hold on. My faith in God had taken a terrible beating. I often tempered my prayers with "God, help my unbelief" (see Mark  9:24).
      Like King David, when God seems more distant than the stars, we have to encourage ourselves through the dry and difficult times. But how do we do that?
      I spent a lot of time reading the Bible. It helped, a little. David didn't have the Bible, but he had something we have too— memories of past victories. "The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (1 Samuel 17:37, NLT). David's example in the Psalms taught me to pour out my heart to God, but somehow I missed his example from First Samuel. Throughout my adult life I have had a, a habit of focusing on the negative things in my life. I didn't see my victories because I was focused on all the defeats.
      Negative memories can overpower the positive. I've heard it said it takes ten positive statements to outweigh one negative. When I am in the midst of crisis, recalling previous victories is difficult. My mind is overwhelmed with the present circumstances and I become a complaining Israelite. They spent 40 years in the desert with selective amnesia. They forget how God delivered them from the Egyptians, parted the Red Sea, poured water from a rock, and rained down manna from heaven. Maybe that's why God directed Moses to create a written record of their victories. "After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, 'Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven'" (Exodus 17:14, NLT). A memorial such as this reminded the Israelites of their victories, of God's promises to them, and of God's faithfulness to fulfill his promises.
      My habit of focusing on the negative kept the shroud of darkness in place much longer than it might have otherwise been. So, I'm going to glean a new lesson from David and Moses. I'm going to remember all the answered prayers and victories God has brought me and, one by one, write them down in a journal. I will regularly read them aloud (see Romans 10:17). I will cultivate a habit of focusing on the victories rather than the defeats. Then, like David, when the next crisis comes I can encourage myself with, "The Lord who delivered my family from the ravages of sexual abuse will deliver us once again."

1 comment:

  1. There seems to an issue with posting comments. I do apologize and will see what I can do.