by Kim Gunderson
She had no idea what she had done. Tears filled my eyes as she spoke.
Life had been like a slow dripping faucet filled with discouragement and uncertainty as I tried to figure out life in this land of in-between. Memories of my past clouded my vision for the future, and I desperately needed evidence of God’s love.
Maybe it was my age, those middle years, that caused such retrospection, but my heart breaks each time I remember the sorrow and suffering that defined much of my adult life.
“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes,
the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.”
Lamentations 3:19-20a, The Message
Remembering can be painful at times, can’t it?
Memories of loved ones gone too soon, relationships lost, dreams unfulfilled. We want to move on, let go, and forget what was behind. Remembering just hurts.
“But there’s one thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope.”
Lamentations 3:21b, The Message
And yet…and yet, as I remember those difficult times, I remember something else. Something I cling to as the painful memories surface.
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.”
Lamentations 3:22, NLT
Over the years I’ve learned that as memories of sorrow and failure invade my thoughts, I can choose to invite God into them. When my heart remembers the pain of loss, I ask God to redeem that pain, to fix my broken places, to lavish His love over the sadness. Why? Because His Word is true. He is near and desires to bind up our wounds (Psalm 147:3). His love never ends.
So that morning as I struggled, I prayed for tangible evidence of God’s love for me, for His mercies to be clear.
Purple tulips. God told me to get you purple tulips.
My sweet friend stood before me, unaware of the barrage of memories that stormed my mind, the sorrow that stirred in my heart. She shared how she’d been praying for me and, as she prayed, God told her to buy me purple tulips and to remind me…I’ve got this. Not my friend. Not me. But God.
God’s mercies are as real for us today as they were when Scripture was written. He reminded me through my sweet friend that He knew me, He saw me, and He loves me. Tears welled as I listened because she really had no idea what she had done. She offered me hope in the gift of purple tulips. Purple, my little girl’s favorite color. Tulips, the flower that remind me of hope…to carry on.
“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begun afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
Lamentations 3:23-24, NLT
Choosing to remember, even the tender places, allows us to see God’s goodness now, this side of heaven, and to experience His mercy today. Remembering can be painful, but it doesn’t define our current reality or our identity. We are not our memories, but we can begin to embrace the reality that they’ve created us to be who we are today. They’ve been woven into the fabric of our being and you, dear one, are a masterpiece of beauty.
Just as Scripture says I will never forget those awful times, I’m sure you won’t be able to, either. We remember the pain and sorrow that defined our past. We recall story after story of brokenness and sorrow that fill our thoughts, that creep in unbidden. Words spewed in pain, wounding our soul.
But we can choose not to live in those memories. We can choose to live in search of God’s goodness each day that we have breath. We can choose to embrace the sadness when it fills our hearts, allowing healing tears to flow. And then we can invite God into those moments, asking Him to reveal His presence, His goodness, His hope, calling us, once again, to fix our eyes on His Son, the Author of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Choose to take God at His promises. Choose Him as your inheritance, blessing you with all that you need to continue to live in faith, even when remembering hurts.
What memories do you need to invite God to redeem? Which part of Lamentations 3:19-24 can you claim today? Please leave a comment.
Kim recently admitted she’s a true Midwesterner at heart, having lived in the Chicago area for the majority of her life. She loves watching the seasons change, especially as winter gives way to spring. Kim has raised four kids—two by birth, two by choice—and recently welcomed a son-in-law into her family. She’s the author of Breathing in Ashes, a memoir that shares her story of hope after the death of her youngest daughter. She also blogs over at www.abigumbrella.com and is a contributing writer for Ask God Today Ministries.
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