Have you ever been forgotten?
I went to high school with a girl named Megan whose parents forgot her 16th birthday. To say that hurt her is an understatement. It did a lot of damage.
The Bible talks a lot about ‘being forgotten’ and what it feels like - for all parties involved. It speaks of what is to be forgotten and what isn't.
3 'Don't Forgets'
1. Don’t forget those who significantly bless you.
Remember those who have blessed you and return them the favor. It may make the world of difference to them. A perfect illustration of this point is seen in the life of Joseph. In Genesis 40 we are told of how Joseph, whilst being unjustly jailed, blesses others by interpreting their dreams. Joseph asks in return...
“But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the hebrews and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon”
But we are told a few verses later....
“The chief cupbearer, however did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”
Joseph remained in jail a further 2 years.
It matters when we forget those who significantly bless us.
2. Don’t forget the helpless, the needy, the poor and the oppressed.
Remember those in legitimate need around you. The Bible specifically warns against forgetting the needs of the widow, fatherless, foreigner or the poor. Rather we are told to defend them.
This does not necessarily mean an open slather of government funded welfare or a disengaging of our commonsense...for it is always better to ‘teach a man to fish’ as the saying goes and the Bible specifically warns against enabling a man’s laziness. But...to do nothing...that is where the problems lies.
“Do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor and do not imagine evil in your hearts against one another.” Zech 7:10
“Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court.” Prov 22:22
I like what one preacher says...helping the needy should ideally be local and accountable and it should start with the person’s own family. You see this principle explained clearly in the following verse.
“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” 1 Tim 5:3-4
The Bible goes on to say here that for a widow to receive help from the church she needs to not live for pleasure (v6) but must be over sixty, have been faithful to her husband, well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of deeds.
In Isaiah 58, Yahweh links our caring for others with our own healing. A conditional promise is given - Yahweh promises to provide for our needs, even in very difficult circumstances if we defend and help the oppressed, poor, needy, hungry, naked, homeless and our own flesh and blood. This Scripture passage had a huge impact on me when I was very sick. I realised that it is all too easy to become inward looking instead of outward looking. To focus on my own needs to the exclusion of others’ needs.
A similar point is reiterated in the New Testament.
“God is not unjust, he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” Heb 6:10
3. Don’t forget God and his covenant, his deeds and his benefits towards us.
Repeatedly through Scripture (Deut 4:23, Deut 6:12, Ps 78, Ps 77) we are told to not forget Yahweh and all he has done for us. I guess it must be a pretty common thing to do, if it is repeated so often as a warning. We must really need to hear this over and over like young children trying to learn their maths times tables. You need to hear something a lot before it goes into longterm memory.
“Praise the Lord O my soul and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.” Ps 103:2-5
So what do we do if we find ourselves forgetting Yahweh and all he has done for us?
We start thanking God for all he has done for us. (Ps 50:22-23) We tell others of what he has done for us. We tell our children of what he has done for us.
But does God ever forgets us?
In many place the Bible tells us that Yahweh will forget those who forget Him and his ways. In other words, he forgets the wicked not the righteous. He forgets those who choose to not acknowledge Him and worship Him. Our covenant with God and his love for us has always been conditional. (Ps 9:17,18, Job 8: 8-22; Deut 32:15-26)
When I ‘feel’ that Yahweh has forgotten me, I spend time reminding myself of all that He has done for me in the past. I lie on my bed and make myself remember everything he has done for me. It is amazing how this simple thing can change your life.
A great book I once read tells of a woman who, when depressed, was challenged by her friend to write a list of a thousand things she could be thankful for. It is an amazing journey of how Yahweh healed her of her depression.
When we remember God, he remember us.
But Zion said, “The Lord has
the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a mother forget the baby at her
and have no compassion on the
child she has borne?
Though she may forget
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
Your walls are ever before me.” Is 49:14-16
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