What is it about loss that opens our eyes to the value of what we no longer have? Three days ago my brother and I helped our elderly father say goodbye to our mother, his bride of 65 years. Surrounded by loving family and friends, it was a hard day but God was very, very good. The thing that hit me immediately as I entered the chapel for Mom’s service, was the absence of her laughter. I realized the loss of her humorous outlook and outspokenness was going to be huge for our family. Thankfully, stories about funny things that Mom said or did are already being collected to help us remember her. One of my favorites was actually an interview recorded in their Senior Center Newsletter several years ago:
QUESTION: What is the best costume you ever wore on Halloween?
MOM’S ANSWER: My birthday suit, because I was born on Halloween!
The lesson that stands out is that, while suffering the loss of a relationship we value can be devastating; remembering their memory becomes vital. Whatever financial or material gain realized with the loss of a loved one, does not compare to the value of their being remembered.
The importance of remembrance is not a new concept. In fact, remembrance is a key element to growing a personal relationship with God. As Moses prepared the Israelites to enter Egypt he gave specific instructions as to how they were to remember God as their Blessor and Provider:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (REMEMBER!) Impress them on your children. (REMEMBER!) Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (REMEMBER!) Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. (REMEMBER!) Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. (REMEMBER!)
When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build (REMEMBER!) , houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant (REMEMBER!) —then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (REMEMBER!) (Deuteronomy 5:4-12)
The words of Jesus, as He prepared His disciples for His death also gave pointed instructions on how they were to remember Him. In Luke 22:14-20 we read,
When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table. And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.”
In Old and New Testaments, God calls His people to REMEMBRANCE HIS FAITHFUL PROVISION IN GOOD TIMES AND IN DIFFICULTY. It is in our remembrance of Him as the Shepherd of our hearts that we discover our resting place. Such is the value of remembrance!
Yesterday I called Dad before getting on an airplane to fly to my home. As he talked about how much he misses Mom I encouraged him to remember the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . . .” Later, as I wrote about our conversation in my Journey Notes, it struck me that whatever comfort to be found when we loose someone we love, is not so much in our remembering them but in holding on to God’s comforting love for us. In Jeremiah 31, God promised a repentant Israel (then living in Babylonian exile because of their rebellion against Him) a future of restoration and hope as they remembered Him. I was especially touched by verse 13B:
“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”
It is in remembering God’s faithfulness throughout the ages as the Shepherd of our hearts, that we are comforted and discover joy in remembering those we have lost. If you are going through a time of suffering loss or disappointment, join me in giving thanks to the One who is faithful no matter what!
All to His Glory!