On my desk, I keep a card (handmade from a folded paper towel and written in pink highlighter) with the words, “Love you Nama, Keefer”. It is a treasure, a sweet reminder of love and thoughtfulness from my littlest grandchild. At first glance, this tiny, carefully folded paper towel might look like someone just forgot to clean up—but to me, it brings a smile to my face on many challenging days. Even on this one, as I write!
Do you know we all need to intentionally look back? How quickly we can forget the good things God has done for us. The big miracles and countless moments of small prayers answered. How easily we can forget what the past should teach us.
In Exodus, Joshua’s stones of remembrance are just one example in a series of memorials that teach us how we, too, need to be intentional and celebrate the mighty acts of God. To someone who did not experience the miraculous deliverance those stones represented, it might have looked like just a heap of rubble. But for the people of Israel, they were a constant reminder that Yahweh was a personal and powerful God.
Thousands of years ago, Asaph wrote a psalm to the Lord that includes these words:
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work and meditate on your mighty deeds. – Psalm 77:11-12 (ESV)
Some of the biggest hindrances to our spiritual growth are daily distractions. Those things that take our eyes off of Jesus and divert our focus onto our personal troubles and cares, or even just the interruptions that sidetracks us. I can start each day with good intentions … time in God’s Word and prayer … but soon find myself bombarded with information that clutters my thoughts, fuels negative emotions, and derails growth.
But this passage gives us an ancient and powerful tool to combat these obstructions to our present joy.
Take a deeper look at Psalm 77 and see the psalmist, Asaph, acknowledging that he’s in a tough place. His world seems to be falling apart. God feels distant and he doesn’t know what to do. Maybe you are in that place today. But even if our situation isn’t nearly as drastic as his, we all can relate to being overwhelmed with external stressors. At times, our default reaction to stress is to manipulate circumstances the way we want them to be.
Asaph shows us a better way.
As we remember and reflect on God’s faithfulness, our current worries, fears, and anxieties begin to fade into the background. God might not necessarily remove the circumstances, but He will give us that eternal perspective with which to view them.
Notice Asaph refers to the “deeds of the Lord” and “wonders of old.” Specifically, he recounts how God showed His power on behalf of His people through the exodus from Egypt and parting the Red Sea. He focused on tangible demonstrations of God’s victory over the forces of chaos and oppression.
The same God who parted the sea is still present and active in our lives today.
Look again and see that Asaph gives us more helpful direction. “I will ponder all Your work,” he writes, “and meditate on Your mighty deeds.”
Two words emphasize that remembering is active and intentional. Ponder (think carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion). Meditate (think deeply and digest the truth of God’s Word).
Listen, we don’t like the “D” word—but so much of growing wiser and maturing in life involves discipline. When I meditate and ponder what God does—and what He has done—I can disconnect from worry and fear and reconnect to the grace and hope I have in God.
God is not distant.
God is not uncaring. God is a loving and personal Redeemer who calms, orders, and transforms my inner world.
God has moved throughout all of history, and He is moving in your story as well. As we ponder and meditate on His deeds, we position ourselves to intimately experience His grace and peace.
Take a few moments right now to reflect on the ways God has moved in your life. Write them down. Pray and thank Him for all He has done. Tell Him the obstacles and struggles you are facing right now. Pray in faith, knowing that the God who has faithfully brought you this far will safely see you through this as well.
Thank You that all throughout history You have been longingly working to restore creation and humanity to its original glory. Remembering how You worked then brings us comfort and strengthens our faith now. Lord help me view all that I experience through the lens of Your faithfulness and mercy. Empower me to be a vessel of hope to others as I share Your works and wonders in my own life.
In Your Son’s precious name, amen.