While watching a well-known show, a woman came on who could no longer hear. This woman would then go on to sing so beautifully, and so fully, it was as though she could hear every note. It was a truly moving performance, showing how one can overcome hardships and obstacles with some determination and support. Someone who can’t hear singing perfectly her own song she composed. That is quite amazing.
But I’m not here to talk about how stunning a performance it was. It was something that her father said before she performed that really hit me. He retold the time when his daughter could no longer remember what his voice sounded like. That hit me hard. A beautiful woman looking at her father and telling him, with her voice so he could hear, that she could no longer remember his voice. Not that she couldn’t hear him, as though that weren’t hard enough: she could no longer remember the voice of the man who had loved and cared for her all her life. He could scream, shout, get as loud as possible, and none of that would ever make a difference for her memory ever again.
Imagine that for a moment: you are with your husband, your wife, your mother, someone who has been in your life so long you can’t remember life without them, someone that you hear everyday, someone whose voice you almost have a knee jerk reaction to, and you can’t remember their voice. You can’t remember what they sound like talking, or yelling, whispering or sobbing, laughing or muttering. That sound, so familiar, so safe, often taken for granted, gone from your mind forever.
You see, human beings are very good at certain things, most of them not good. One of those things is forgetting. We forget our wallets, our keys, our glasses, our phones, etc. Those are just trivial, inconsequential things in the long run; minor annoyances that won’t affect us much in 6 months, let alone a year. Unfortunately, we also tend to forget far more important things.
We forget God’s faithfulness. How many times have those prayers, that we deem minor, been answered faithfully? Yet we tend forget to pray about the minor things in life and wonder how we got so far away. How many times has God revealed the way through His Word during difficult times? Yet we tend to forget to read it in the hustle and bustle of life and wonder how things got out of hand again. How many times has another brother or sister in Christ helped us conquer a sin through their guidance and love? Yet we tend to think no one can help us or would understand our situation, or no one would accept us if “they only knew”.
We forget our sinfulness. We push those boundaries. We play with that fire. We get as close to sin as possible, forgetting that every time we’ve done that prior, we always fail. We always give in. We always get burned. Instead of learning from the past mistakes and looking at the scars, we insist that this time will be different and make new scars. We forget how easily the flesh wins and the will loses. We forget how weak we actually are. Then we pay the price, and only after do we recall all the past failures, instead of prior.
The book of Deuteronomy was written by Moses to the next generation of the Hebrew nation after the Exodus. These people had grown up in the wilderness, living out the sentence given to the previous generation for the previous generation’s sins. In the New American Standard Bible, this second generation is told to “Remember” 14 times in 33 chapters:
Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’
You shall remember
that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord
your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord
your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.
you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember
what the Lord
your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt:
You shall remember
all the way which the Lord
your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
But you shall remember
your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is
Remember, do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you left the land of Egypt until you arrived at this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord.
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.
You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), so that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.
You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.
Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.
But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.
“Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt,
“Remember the days of old, Consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, Your elders, and they will tell you.
Moses is constantly reminding this second generation to remember the past sins of their fathers, the faithfulness of God, and their past conditions as slaves. Why? Because we as human forget past sins, how things were, and God’s faithfulness the fastest and most often. God knows that. He knows our shortcomings when it comes to remembering His nature and our nature.
Deuteronomy is the last book Moses writes, and he is leaving the Hebrew nation in the hands of Joshua to carve out their own land for themselves, the land of promise. He has witnessed for the past 40 years the immense evil that is humanity. He has experienced the impatience, anger, rage, perversion, pride, jealousy, and hatred of humanity firsthand, succumbing to it himself in front of the entire nation. This is his last chance to help them, with chapter 32 is a song that is specifically designed to witness against the Hebrew nation once he is gone and help them remember. He is trying with everything he has to get this point across: don’t forget. Remember God’s faithfulness. Remember God’s promises. Remember your shortcomings. Remember you need God. Remember where you were before God picked you up and dusted you off.
Yet, as it usually goes, these warnings didn’t have a very lasting impact as we see in Joshua 2:10,
All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.
One generation was all it took, and God was forgotten. They then went on to serve the Baals and Ashteroth until God crushed them with foreign enemies they should have conquered.
Do everything you can to remember God, and all He has done in your life and through the lives of others. Whether it be a daily reminder on your phone, a scheduled time to read the Word or pray, or telling of God’s faithfulness to friends and family in your own life, remember His attributes, His faithfulness, His promises; because, funnily enough, the God who gave us the minds we use to remember, and allows our minds to function properly, and allows us to exist every second, is easily forgotten.