For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 2 Corinthians 4:5-12
I'm turning the big 4-0 next month. I say this not because I expect you to get me a present (even though I won't turn it down if you do). It's just taking me a while to wrap my mind around this reality. The number seems so, well....old. My kids joke that I'm over the hill, but for the most part, I feel young for my age. Forty is the new thirty, or that's what I'm trying to convince myself. Yet, there is one place where I'm feeling my age, and that's my memory.
I've always been forgetful. Because I'm a thinker (and worrier) my mind continually runs. Not only does it consume my thoughts but it quite frequently enables key pieces of a conversation to go in one ear and out the other. Remembering people's names isn't a talent I've mastered. I need to have a grocery list in my hand, or I'll aimlessly wander down each aisle in Harris Teeter trying to remember what ingredients I need for dinner.
In a way, we all fight with forgetfulness, especially with our faith. We suffer from spiritual amnesia. God's truth, which is supposed to transform our heart, goes in one ear and out the other, and in turn, weakens its power in our lives. We misremember that we are alive in Christ and let the world define us by settling for days filled with the status quo.
Forgetfulness rears its ugly head most often during times of struggle.
When we come face-to-face with adversity, it's easy to forget all that God has done for us. When we have to pick up the piece of a shattered dream, it's easy to wonder if God is indeed good. When we encounter hardships and difficult circumstances, it's easy to overlook that He works everything out for our good.
When we get pressed to our limits, it's easy to forget that His strength gets made perfect in our weakness. When darkness seems to be winning, it's easy to let His light flicker out and forget we can illuminate our situation with His love through our words and actions. When our prayers and our pleading feel like they're falling on deaf ears, it's easy to wonder if God is near and if He is, whether He cares.
Bad times aren't the only time when we fail to consider the implications following Christ has on the way we spend our days. When we force our will, our ways, and our agenda in our circumstances, it's easy to forget that our life isn't our own. When we are experiencing some measure of success, it's easy to fool ourselves into believing we made it happen on our own. When we are getting recognition and attention, it's easy to soak in the applause and pat ourselves on the back while forgetting everything we do should point others to the hope we have in Christ.
So, no matter where you might find yourself today, stop and consider. Slow down and remember. Remember who you are and what you've been given. Recognize that He has started a good work within you. Replace your forgetfulness with faith and assurance.
Where has forgetfulness plagued your faith? What circumstances are you facing that are causing you to forget your identity and His faithfulness?
God, remind me of Your ways. Help me to remember the joy of my salvation. Make clear the hope I have forgotten. May I set my mind on who I am in You and let that identity change everything about me. In your name, Jesus. Amen.